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Gorbash Kazdar
2006-02-22, 11:21 AM
Comrade Gorby: This thread is a resource for getting information about real life weapons and armor. Normally this thread would be in Friendly Banter, but the concept has always been that the information is for RPG players and DMs so they can use it to make their games better.

The original thread (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display;num=1119641664 ) was started by Eric the Mad, and included contributions from many posters for both questions and answers. Once that thread hit critical mass, Version II (http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display;num=1132964821 ) began. This thread is Version III.

A few rules for this thread:
This thread is for asking questions about how weapons and armor really work. As such, it's not going to include game rule statistics. If you have such a question, especially if it stems from an answer or question in this thread, feel free to start a new post and include a link back to there. If you do ask a rule question here, you'll be asked to move it elsewhere, and then we'll be happy to help out with it.
Any weapon or time period is open for questions. Medieval and ancient warfare questions seem to predominate, but since there are many games set in other periods as well, feel free to ask about any weapon. This includes futuristic ones - but be aware that these will be likely assessed according to their real life feasability. Thus, phasers, for example, will be talked about in real-world science and phsyics terms rather than the Star Trek canon. If you want to discuss a fictional weapon from a particular source according to the canonical explanation, please start a new thread for it. :)
Please try to cite your claims if possible. If you know of a citation for a particular piece of information, please include it. However, everyone should be aware that sometimes even the experts don't agree, so it's quite possible to have two conflicting answers to the same question. This isn't a problem; the asker of the question can examine the information and decide which side to go with. The purpose of the thread is to provide as much information as possible. Debates are fine, but be sure to keep it a friendly debate (even if the experts can't!).
No modern real-world political discussion. As the great Carl von Clausevitz once said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," so poltics and war are heavily intertwined. However, politics are a big hot-button issue and one banned on these boards, so avoid political analysis if at all possible (this thread is primarily about military hardware). There's more leeway on this for anything prior to about 1800, but be very careful with all of it, and anything past 1900 is surely not open for analysis. (I know these are arbitrary dates, but any dates would be, and I feel these ones are reasonable.)
No graphic descriptions. War is violent, dirty, and horrific, and anyone discussing it should be keenly aware of that. However, on this board graphic descriptions of violence (or sexuality) are not allowed, so please avoid them.

With that done, have at, and enjoy yourselves!

Thomas
2006-02-22, 02:27 PM
Needlers/needleguns/fletchette guns. A standard cyberpunk weapon, the idea is to use a small, light dart or flechette (possibly ceramic) instead of a bullet. Sometimes (in cyberpunk games & literature) they're poisonous, sometimes they explode, sometimes they just fragment destructively.

What's real about them, and what's science fiction? Are there any weapons, in existence or development, that use this sort of principle? How effective are they?

I know APFSDS rounds are essentially a kind of huge flechette, and I understand there are artillery rounds that use something similar, but I'm more interested in handguns (since they tend to be an easily concealable weapon in cyberpunk).

Sundog
2006-02-22, 02:31 PM
I have a question that's been bothering me for some time. I'm aware that one- and two-handed axes have been used by a variety of warriors all around the world, from the Vikings to the Saxon Housecarls and on and on, but all of the historical depictions I have seen have been single-bitted, that is, with an axehead on one side only.

I have no problem with that, but in a lot of fantasy drawings and paintings, double-bitted heads are used.

Did anyone actually use a double-bitted axe for warfare? And was it effective?

Sundog
2006-02-22, 02:36 PM
Needlers/needleguns/fletchette guns. A standard cyberpunk weapon, the idea is to use a small, light dart or flechette (possibly ceramic) instead of a bullet. Sometimes (in cyberpunk games & literature) they're poisonous, sometimes they explode, sometimes they just fragment destructively.

What's real about them, and what's science fiction? Are there any weapons, in existence or development, that use this sort of principle? How effective are they?

I know APFSDS rounds are essentially a kind of huge flechette, and I understand there are artillery rounds that use something similar, but I'm more interested in handguns (since they tend to be an easily concealable weapon in cyberpunk).


To my knowledge, flechette rounds for handweapons are pretty much restricted to shotguns in RL. Drag-stabilised Flechette rounds are devastatingly deadly, because A) they hold together as a clump longer than shot, and B) they're usually sharp, and thus have a nasty tendency to ignore soft armour. For both of these reasons, they're heavily restricted.

For rifles and sidearms, APFSDS rounds are about the closest you're going to get.

Thomas
2006-02-22, 02:41 PM
For rifles and sidearms, APFSDS rounds are about the closest you're going to get.

That doesn't sound right, amateur though I am in these matters. Shooting fin-stabilized rounds with a rifled barrel isn't possible, is it? That's why discarding sabot rounds are only found for shotguns, right?

LordOfNarf
2006-02-22, 02:41 PM
I love using reach weapons, and recently I was wondering if the Duom (in arms and equipment guide) was actually a real type of weapon ast some point or if it was somebored game desiners brainchild?

Ikkitosen
2006-02-22, 02:47 PM
Needlers/needleguns/fletchette guns. A standard cyberpunk weapon, the idea is to use a small, light dart or flechette (possibly ceramic) instead of a bullet. Sometimes (in cyberpunk games & literature) they're poisonous, sometimes they explode, sometimes they just fragment destructively.

What's real about them, and what's science fiction? Are there any weapons, in existence or development, that use this sort of principle? How effective are they?

I know APFSDS rounds are essentially a kind of huge flechette, and I understand there are artillery rounds that use something similar, but I'm more interested in handguns (since they tend to be an easily concealable weapon in cyberpunk).
I believe that flechette weapons DO exist and shred personal armour quite handily, but that they're also illegal in war due to international convention. The reason for this is that they maim and injure rather than kill, and are thus considered inhumane. This is just what I have heard, but if you're really interested I'm sure you can look into it further along these lines.

pincushionman
2006-02-22, 03:04 PM
I think another reason flechette rounds are limited mostly to smoothbore shotguns is I imagine the sabot could f**k up your rifling. Using different rounds in the same rifled barrel is bad enough, plus for a flechette (long and skinny compared to a bullet) rifling doesn't help you any, just wastes energy in the barrel.

EDIT: ESPECIALLY if you have multiple flechettes in the same round. Any spinning would send the flechettes flying in different directions when the sabot separated. And you need them to travel fairly straight.

AMX
2006-02-22, 03:13 PM
For rifles and sidearms, APFSDS rounds are about the closest you're going to get.
Look up "SPIWs" and "Steyr ACR". ;)


That doesn't sound right, amateur though I am in these matters. Shooting fin-stabilized rounds with a rifled barrel isn't possible, is it? That's why discarding sabot rounds are only found for shotguns, right?
"Rifle" is sometimes used as a generic term for "long handheld gun", rather than "firearm with rifled barrel".
In other words: rifles don't actually need to be rifled.


I believe that flechette weapons DO exist and shred personal armour quite handily, but that they're also illegal in war due to international convention. The reason for this is that they maim and injure rather than kill, and are thus considered inhumane. This is just what I have heard, but if you're really interested I'm sure you can look into it further along these lines.
That's a myth.



Now about how effective they are...
That's disputed, and I'm not aware of any actual tests.
Usually people will either claim ...
a) that the flechette will simply pass straight through a target, causing only minimal damage, or
b) that it will bend, and possibly break, and cause damage far in excess of that done by a regular bullet.

Gorbash Kazdar
2006-02-22, 04:10 PM
Wikipedia's article on flechettes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flechettes) actually covers the issues pretty well. If the problems of accuracy and deflection can be solved, flechette ammo does have some benefits. Against light body armor, it can penetrate better (though the small darts also tend to cause less damage than a normal round). It's also lighter and has less recoil than with standard rounds. The SCIMTR type darts are actually quite effective, just too expensive - their performance isn't superior enough to standard rounds to justify the production cost.

[hr]
I'm fairly certain the duom is simply a fantasy weapon. I've never seen a real-life version of the weapon, and the idea of the reverse-thrust attack seems a bit fishy to me (outside of using it to try and trip someone). Plus, adding so much weight to the head of the spear would likely make it less useful as a spear. With other spear-like weapons I know of, those that have "accoutraments," if you will, are meant to add some form of guard onto the weapon or so it can be used for different kinds of attacks (usually so it can be swung with some effect). Plus, in real life most polearm users also trained to choke-up on the weapon if someone closed with them, or use the back end of the haft to strike with (more to harass and unbalance the opponent than to cause real damage).

To me, the duom just seems like a fanciful extrapolation of the boar spear designed to solve a problem that only really exists in the D&D ruleset.

[hr]
The labrys is an example of a real double-bitted battle-axe, but most Medieval axes I've seen are single bitted. The conceptual advantage of the double-bitted axe is that you can strike on the back-swing as well, but in my own experience turning a back-swing into a strike feels extremely awkward, since you're going agaisnt the natural power motion of your grip.

To me, a back-swing strike would at best be a harassing attack; at worst, it makes it harder to recover the weapon. A single headed axe can be recovered pretty quickly, especially if you choke up on it further (which also makes it easier to control and puts a bit more power into the blow).

More likely the second head simply added weight to a strike and made using the weapon a bit simpler to use. But it doesn't seem like a major advantage - simply making a single head a bit bigger can have the same affect and has other benefits, and you don't want the head to be too heavy (fantasy axes are hugely oversized, usually).

Spuddly
2006-02-22, 04:20 PM
That's a myth.

What is a myth? That certain types of ammunition are banned under the Geneva conventions, or flachette ammo in particular?

Gorbash Kazdar
2006-02-22, 04:58 PM
What is a myth? That certain types of ammunition are banned under the Geneva conventions, or flachette ammo in particular?
Both. The Hague Conventions are the ones that banned hollow-point ammunition from warfare (as well as other ammunition designed to deform or flatten excessively within the human body). Flechette ammunition is not covered by this.

The Geneva Protocol of the Hague Conventions banned biological and chemical weapons, IIRC, which is where some of the confusion between the Hague Conventions and Geneva Conventions (which cover treatment of prisoners and the wounded primarily, IIRC) comes from.

pincushionman
2006-02-22, 05:09 PM
I suspect the idea of two edges on a battleaxe grew from the idea of having two edges on a woodcutting axe (the tool). These I have seen, but have been warned against their use because it is easier to hurt onesself using them.

I guess the motivation behind having a double-bladed woodcutting axe is that if one side gets dull, you just turn it around and use the other side, meaning you get twice as much cutting out of the same weight, and you either don't need to pack as many axes, or you only have to sharpen it half as often. This would be fairly important in lumberjacking, but I can't imagine it's really that much of a concern in battle.

Fhaolan
2006-02-22, 05:10 PM
The labrys is an example of a real double-bitted battle-axe, but most Medieval axes I've seen are single bitted. *The conceptual advantage of the double-bitted axe is that you can strike on the back-swing as well, but in my own experience turning a back-swing into a strike feels extremely awkward, since you're going agaisnt the natural power motion of your grip. *


Double-bitted axes existed in the bronze age like Gorbash says, such as the labrys and sagaris (although the sagaris isn't always double-bitted.) For some reason it became associated with Amazons, to the point that some historians claimed that Amazons invented the concept of battleaxes in the first place, and thanks to this association there are several modern feminist movements that use a double-bitted axe as their symbol. They basically fell out of fashion (probably because all the male warriors didn't want to be using a 'girly weapon'. :) ) but was re-invented in the 19th century in America as the 'Paul Bunyan Axe'. Most medieval battleaxes are single bitted, some having back spikes, hammerheads or hooks.

Now, for personal experience using a double-bitted axe: I find that the back blade is almost unused. Single-handed I almost never do a 'backswing' like you would in tennis, I rotate my wrist and bring the primary blade to bear. That provides more power than a 'backswing'.

With larger, two-handed axes I tend to keep my hands moving, on the recovery of a swing switching my grip, which again means the primary blade is brought to bear.

I am under the impression that the 'Paul Bunyan' lumberjack axes of the 19th century required special training to use effectively, and for this reason never managed to become popular in Europe. There's probably some trick to make them work that doesn't come natural when swinging a battleaxe.

So unless you do something to damage the primary blade, and do it in a way that doesn't invalidate the axe entirely, I personally don't see the advantage of double-bitting outside of increased axe-head weight.

Edmund
2006-02-22, 06:46 PM
Double bit axes are more often found in the tool side of the axe world. Their edges commonly have two different grinds. A finer edge for cutting down trees and a blunter edge for work close to the ground.

As far as the military uses of double-bit axes, they're basically only occasionally seen in the Middle Ages, and perhaps earlier. They're primarily parade weapons, not meant to see combat.

The reason for this? There's two.

The first is that they are less versatile than an axe with, say, a hammer or spike end on the other side.

Second, they are more difficult to make. The basic design for a single bit axe is: a bit of wrought iron, and some HC steel... For a basic demonstration, see here: camp axe (http://www.anvilfire.com/iForge/tutor/axe/index.htm)

Instead of merely folding it over, you would have to weld two different 'strips', if you will, together, and that is hard to control.

Leperflesh
2006-02-22, 08:02 PM
Or, forge the entire head as a solid piece, and then drive first a spike, and then an entire drift, through to make a hole for the handle. This is very difficult to do right, because the hole must be precisely centered, yet it's very heavy hammer work indeed... and also stresses the steel more.

Or you can drill out the hole. This is wasteful, and you have to have a bit that is harder than the steel you used for the head (not that big a deal: you'd use softer, tougher steel for an axe typically anyway... although of course this may prevent the use of higher-carbon steel for the edge).

Or, you could cut or forge two deep fullers into the head, and use a split handle to wrap around the head. This is a weaker construction technique, however, but the fact that the head will be balanced may mitigate that factor somewhat. This technique was the norm for stone axes.

I've actually made an axe head using the technique Edmund describes.

-Lep

Caelestion
2006-02-22, 08:13 PM
Anyone who's been to the Greek island of Crete won't fail to notice all the double-headed axe motifs going on there. The double-headed axe was the symbol of the legendary/mythical King Minos and was possibly also linked into the bull worship etc. that went on there too.

Edmund
2006-02-22, 08:25 PM
Or, forge the entire head as a solid piece, and then drive first a spike, and then an entire drift, through to make a hole for the handle. This is very difficult to do right, because the hole must be precisely centered, yet it's very heavy hammer work indeed... and also stresses the steel more.

I've actually done this, with a single-edged axe (which is currently annealing), though I slit the eye rather than punched it.

I can tell you this: It was difficult to control with a hammer-side and a blade-side (I originally wanted to make a small hammer, but switched to an axe after I had squared up one end. D'oh.) I can't imagine how hard it would be with two blades.

Bizwacky
2006-02-22, 09:50 PM
Sorry about the minor change of topic, but I'm curious, how does one wield a battleaxe properly? I've used regular axes to split wood, or chop down trees and it seems to me that that would be the right way to wield an axe, but, wouldn't that leave you vulnerable as you prepare to swing? I imagine it would do quite a bit of damage, but be a reckless way to fight. Is there a completely different technique for wielding battleaxes, or what?

tsu
2006-02-22, 10:07 PM
A lot of weapons like axes or swords were made double sided simply because inferior tempering techniques and steel made metal hard enough to hold a edge so brittle the blade would chip as soon as it struck anything hard

Raum
2006-02-22, 10:23 PM
Sorry about the minor change of topic, but I'm curious, how does one wield a battleaxe properly? I've used regular axes to split wood, or chop down trees and it seems to me that that would be the right way to wield an axe, but, wouldn't that leave you vulnerable as you prepare to swing? I imagine it would do quite a bit of damage, but be a reckless way to fight. Is there a completely different technique for wielding battleaxes, or what?
There are some on here who can probably answer this in more detail than I can, but briefly, you wouldn't use a battle axe as you do a wood axe. Your swings will be shorter and more controlled, probably with your hands held a bit farther apart to give you the leverage to snap the axe head into your target.

Long, powerful swings such as you use chopping wood, leave you open too long and are harder to recover from.

Edmund
2006-02-23, 12:09 AM
A lot of weapons like axes or swords were made double sided simply because inferior tempering techniques and steel made metal hard enough to hold a edge so brittle the blade would chip as soon as it struck anything hard
I doubt this strongly.

First and foremost: I have never heard of 'inferior' tempering techniques. There are two types that I know of, and both basically achieve the same result.

First, there is tempering with heat from the fire, that is holding the hardened object over the flame for the appropriate period of time (either through experience or colour). You may also collect heat in a region of the object that is not meant to be tempered, and it will spread to the area that you want to be tempered (this is great for chisels, axes, and punches. Anything one-ended)

The second is merely heating up a large piece of iron, and holding the object to be tempered to that until the desired colour is reached.

Neither is inferior to the other, though one unskilled at it will probably do a bad job, but that is the case with all skilled labor. The first method requires less time, but more skill, so it is not advised to be used without a good deal of practice.

Now, blades chipping is a bad thing. A very bad thing. The reason for this is that chips tend to be deeper than folds, and create tiny crystalline cracks in the blade. They aren't fun.

One good example of a sword with an edge that would chip rather than fold is the katana. This sword was not meant to strike hard surfaces, but was perfect for the draw-cut, which is why it had a hard edge. It was single-edged.

On a different subject: I pretty much agree with Raum. You could also use two-handed axes such as the Berdysh to thrust, and types with any sort of downward 'beard' or such could hook shields.

Single handed axes are pretty much used the same way as hatchets are, with certain exceptions in handling (especially because battle axes have longer handles than hatchets).

Fhaolan
2006-02-23, 01:20 AM
Sorry about the minor change of topic, but I'm curious, how does one wield a battleaxe properly? I've used regular axes to split wood, or chop down trees and it seems to me that that would be the right way to wield an axe, but, wouldn't that leave you vulnerable as you prepare to swing? I imagine it would do quite a bit of damage, but be a reckless way to fight. Is there a completely different technique for wielding battleaxes, or what?

It's somewhat difficult to explain in text. So much easier to demonstrate in RL. Here's an attempt to explain one type of 'swing'. There's a lot more, but this one is a starting point to get the idea. DISCLAIMER: Don't do this with a real axe unless you know what you're doing and had the proper training. You can seriously hurt yourself and others. The axe is both a tool and a weapon, should be treated with respect and not used as a toy. I cannot repeat this enough. I've seen enough fools hurt themselves because they thought it was all a game.

Using a two-handed axe with a straight shaft about four feet long: First off, you almost never swing the axe vertically, because recovering if you miss is annoying. Instead, you will be swinging at an angle with the intent of reaching the target's center of mass through their collarbone. One of your hands is at the base of the shaft (call this hand 1), the other up near the head of the axe (call this hand 2). Bring the axe up so that it's parallel to the ground, going past your head, with hand 2 behind you and hand 1 in front. Do not twist your arms into unnatural positions. Be relaxed. This allows you to move the shaft fairly quickly in case you need to block incoming blows. Now lets begin the swing. Hand 2 goes up, sending the axe head upwards in an arc. As the axe continues to swing hand 2, while still providing the force, starts to slide down the shaft of the axe. The idea is that hand 2 and hand 1 will meet at the end of the shaft when the axe-head is passing through the target's center of mass, if such a thing was possible. Usually, just before impact, hand1 is pulling down as well to provide extra 'oomph'.

Now, if you miss: Notice that your hands are together. Let go with hand 1, and stop providing force with hand 2. Hand 1 will be catching the shaft of the axe, sufficiently below the axe-head to not get cut by the blades in a moment. Continue the arc so that the axe misses your legs on the opposite side to where you started your swing. Catch the axe shaft with hand 1, as mentioned before. Continuing the arc, bring the axe up so that the shaft is parallel with the ground with hand 1 behind you and hand 2 in front of you, in an exact mirror image of the position you were when you started the swing. Wash, rinse, repeat. The axe-head should be making a distorted figure eight motion as you continuously swing, let go, catch, bring up, swing, let go, catch, etc.

Now, if you hit: It is unlikely that you will actually fix the axe in your target, unless the target is very woody. With practice, you should be able to drag the blade out of the target by pulling the shaft towards you, at which point you let the axe head fall, and start the circular motion again.

As I said, this is one single swing. There are lots of others, but it's a starting point.

tsu
2006-02-23, 04:32 AM
Well first of all is the steel you’d find in the middle ages wouldn’t be like the steel you can buy at you local hardware store,
The steel would have lots of impurity like sulphur that makes it brittle to begin with; also the carbon content would be inconsistent, In Europe most of the art metallurgy was lost during the dark ages though if you were really rich you could get steel imported from India.
As for the tempering process its that the techniques took a while to develop, first you need to heat it tile its red and cool it quickly to make it hard and brittle then head until it has a blue huge and cooled rapidly repeatedly to exchange hardness for toughness, this doesn’t seem overly complicated but it wasn’t perfected till near the close of the 100 years war thought inconsistent steel impurities probably made it harder.

Belkarseviltwin
2006-02-23, 02:13 PM
Using a two-handed axe with a straight shaft about four feet long: First off, you almost never swing the axe vertically, because recovering if you miss is annoying. Instead, you will be swinging at an angle with the intent of reaching the target's center of mass through their collarbone. One of your hands is at the base of the shaft (call this hand 1), the other up near the head of the axe (call this hand 2). Bring the axe up so that it's parallel to the ground, going past your head, with hand 2 behind you and hand 1 in front. Do not twist your arms into unnatural positions. Be relaxed. This allows you to move the shaft fairly quickly in case you need to block incoming blows. Now lets begin the swing. Hand 2 goes up, sending the axe head upwards in an arc. As the axe continues to swing hand 2, while still providing the force, starts to slide down the shaft of the axe. The idea is that hand 2 and hand 1 will meet at the end of the shaft when the axe-head is passing through the target's center of mass, if such a thing was possible. Usually, just before impact, hand1 is pulling down as well to provide extra 'oomph'.


The two-handed technique with the top hand sliding down the handle is how I was taught to swing a wood axe (although you do it vertically, and there is no "recovery" motion).

Also, I've heard of the Danish battleaxe being swung round the user's head before striking, which apparently gave it enough momentum to go through a knight and kill his horse. Is there any grain of truth in this?

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-23, 03:08 PM
The two-handed technique with the top hand sliding down the handle is how I was taught to swing a wood axe (although you do it vertically, and there is no "recovery" motion).

Also, I've heard of the Danish battleaxe being swung round the user's head before striking, which apparently gave it enough momentum to go through a knight and kill his horse. Is there any grain of truth in this?

Not much. A full blow to the head would probably take a knight out of action, but it'll have to really be a blow to the head. A horse will survive that kind of impact. It won't be happy, but it'll not drop down dead.


As for fighting with a double handed axe: You fight using the whole shaft. The head is used with cuts and strikes as we see normal, yet shorter and less forcefull compared to woodcutting. The trick with fighting with a battle axe is to use the shaft as you would a polearm. Also the same way you'd use a pollax. Also note that historical waraxes were a lot lighter then you'd expect. (if you're allowed to examine weapons up close at your local museum, take a look)

For a visual example of what I mean, take a look here, page 10 and 11: http://mhewer.club.fr/Library/Talhoffer/page_10.htm

Edmund
2006-02-23, 03:36 PM
Well first of all is the steel you’d find in the middle ages wouldn’t be like the steel you can buy at you local hardware store,
The steel would have lots of impurity like sulphur that makes it brittle to begin with; also the carbon content would be inconsistent, In Europe most of the art metallurgy was lost during the dark ages though if you were really rich you could get steel imported from India.

Concerning steel production:
First and foremost, nothing metallurgically was 'lost' during the 'Dark Ages'. The Romans had little iron production in general, though that is not to say that their smiths were any less skilled than their later counterparts.
Techniques were used to remove the impurities (though these impurities weren't so bad in Europe as the were in Japan), so there wouldn't be 'lots of' impurities if the steel had been properly processed.

Knowledge, especially about things as commonplace as ironwork is rarely ever lost, except to scholars. Some scholars, for example, think the technique for Damascus (Wootz) steel was lost, but this was not the case, it was just not known to those scholars.


As for the tempering process its that the techniques took a while to develop, first you need to heat it tile its red and cool it quickly to make it hard and brittle then head until it has a blue huge and cooled rapidly repeatedly to exchange hardness for toughness, this doesn’t seem overly complicated but it wasn’t perfected till near the close of the 100 years war thought inconsistent steel impurities probably made it harder.


You don't merely describe tempering but hardening too. I have seen no evidence that it wasn't 'perfected' until the middle of the 15th c. (1453 is when the HYW officially ended).

You would not always heat the steel up to blue, either. The colour would vary depending on what you were tempering. Swords would be blue or purple, spears would be light blue, the faces of hammers would be straw yellow, etc. (These colours would be ground off in the final polishing and sharpening, of course)




It is also worth noting that relatively little analysis has been done regarding medieval steel, particularly in the area of weapons, so what archaeological knowledge we do have is rather inconclusive.

Ryujin
2006-02-24, 03:45 AM
Going back a bit...



That doesn't sound right, amateur though I am in these matters. Shooting fin-stabilized rounds with a rifled barrel isn't possible, is it? That's why discarding sabot rounds are only found for shotguns, right?

The M903 SLAP for weapons that'll take the 0.50 BMG round uses a plastic sabot for its 0.30 tungsten penetrator, but I don't think it's fin-stabilized. 19mm RHA penetration at range.

DarthMarasmus
2006-02-24, 12:20 PM
That doesn't sound right, amateur though I am in these matters. Shooting fin-stabilized rounds with a rifled barrel isn't possible, is it? That's why discarding sabot rounds are only found for shotguns, right?


Shotguns are all smooth-bore, no rifling. It is possible to buy a rifled barrel for a shotgun (for use with non-rifled, non-saboted slugs), in fact, some people prefer them to rifles when deer hunting in deep undergrowth since they don't deflect as badly and have better stopping power (after all, the only rifle I know of that has a bullet that is nearly as big as a 12-guage slug is a .50 BMG, and you don't want to shoot a deer, elk, moose, etc. with it since there would be practically nothing left!). Quite simply, a 12-guage slug has more knockdown power because of the kinetic energy transference.

I hope this helps and doesn't sound too much like a science lesson ;)

DarthMarasmus
2006-02-24, 12:37 PM
One question:

I'm doing a presentation in my Roman History class comparing the film "Gladiator" to the realities of the Arena and the Circus Maximus. I'm looking for sources regarding the weapons and armor worn by gladiators, so I would appreciate any suggestions for good sources for this information. Please don't give me anything like "Joe Blow's Gladiator Site" because this is a 400 level class and the professor would not take kindly to such.

felblood
2006-02-24, 04:21 PM
Have you tried checking Wikipedia? The site itself isn't very reliable, but they usually have good links at the bottom of the page.

As for a double bitted lumber axe, used properly there is little rirsk of cutting yourself with the back side. (the blade follows a horizontal swing or a helix path from near your right hip or shoulder, over your shoulder and down in front of you. You can generally hit taller targets harder unless you bend over slightly with each stroke, which can tire the back.) The second bit was first introduced to reduce the number of times a lumberjack had to go back and sharpen his axe during the workday, but many modern axes are customised with different cutting angles on each side.

Nomad
2006-02-24, 05:08 PM
One question: *

I'm doing a presentation in my Roman History class comparing the film "Gladiator" to the realities of the Arena and the Circus Maximus. *I'm looking for sources regarding the weapons and armor worn by gladiators, so I would appreciate any suggestions for good sources for this information. *Please don't give me anything like "Joe Blow's Gladiator Site" because this is a 400 level class and the professor would not take kindly to such. *

I don't have any online sources at my fingertips, but I recently read Gladiators by Alan Baker (should be out on Amazon, dunno about local libraries), and that should be quite helpful for such a presentation.

Thiel
2006-02-25, 06:14 PM
Also, I've heard of the Danish battleaxe being swung round the user's head before striking, which apparently gave it enough momentum to go through a knight and kill his horse. Is there any grain of truth in this?

The Bredakse or broadaxe was first used by the vikings.
They did use their axes in such a way but it was supposed to be more frigtening than it was effective.

Sundog
2006-02-25, 08:59 PM
That makes sense. It's like why the Vikings often went with two weapons when raiding - when they were going up against farmer and fisherman militias, scaring and demoralizing their opponents was often the best way to beat them.

Matthew
2006-02-25, 10:34 PM
Knowledge of actual fighting styles for that period is extremely limited; much of what is 'known' is entirely speculative or else based on archaeological experimentation. That latter often yields interesting and plausible results, but rarely definitive.
The act of whirling a Danish Axe round one's head is unlikely to be a very practical combat manuever, but, much like cutting a figure eight with a sword, it was probably an effective display of prowess. Again, though, this is pretty speculative stuff. I'd be interested to hear of any written source of the period that presents such a manouver by a Norseman / Dane, etc...
On the subject of the possibility of cleaving an armoured knight and his mounts in two, the answer is probably not. Such blows are, however, a topos of medieval chronicle, epic and romance.
It happens fairly often in Middle English and Medieval French romance, but is usually reserved for an important moment in the story. Several types of cut are depicted, i.e. down, across or some variant thereof. Often a character is cut down the middle, through double helmet, double hauberk, saddle, horse et al, and the blade embeds itself more than a foot into the ground. It's nonesense, but a toned down version often finds its way into more sobre and respectable chronicles.
Off the top of my head, for instance, it is reported by William of Tyre in his Chronicon (an otherwise very respectable medieval chronicle) that both Godfrey of Bologne and Conrad III of Germany on the 'First' and 'Second' crusades respectively dealt such blows. In both instances the weapon used is a sword, the enemy is fully armoured and the blow is presented as evidence of their individual prowess, putting fear into the enemy. It is possible to argue that these blows are even seen as being semi-miraculous.
To the best of my knowledge, the archaeological view is that an axe would be the most likely weapon to cause a wound of such force that it cut a man in two, but the battlefield evidence is inconclusive. Where bodies have been recovered in such a condition, it is unlclear whether the damage was inflicted during or after the battle.
However, it seems to me that it is entirely possible to inflict such an injury with either axe or sword, but the circumstances would have to be extremely favourable for it to occur. The chances of it occuring in combat against a fully armoured and mounted opponent are negligable to none.
I hope this proves helpul.

Ryujin
2006-02-25, 11:07 PM
The best archaeological evidence for battle injuries would have come from the Battle of Wisby--the site was thoroughly investigated, and the corpses examined by professional pathologists.

One corpse had both legs hacked off with a single blow, while one unlucky combatant took three sword/axe strikes to the skull, which penetrated to the brain, before he fell.

It can all be found in the book 'Armour from the Battle of Wisby'; the site was also significant in revealing the construction of so-called 'coat-of-plates'.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1891448056/104-2417396-3066355?v=glance&n=283155

Matthew
2006-02-26, 12:52 AM
That is a very useful and, indeed, pioneering book, but it is not very recent, being originally publish over sixty years ago and a lot has been written since then.
In particular, it is worth reading what Rosemary Ascherl has to say on the subject in her article 'The Technology of Chivalry in Reality and Romance', published in 'The Study of Chivalry: Resources and Approaches', ed. Howell Chickering and Thomas Seiler (Kalamazoo: West Michigan University Medieval Institute Publications, 1988), pp. 263-311.
She draws attention to the fact that we know very little of the circumstances under which such injuries were meted out. In particular, she questions whether it was a single blow that severed both legs. of the case which you cite. She also refutes the possibility that a single blow could bisect both rider and horse.
As I indicated above, we do not know when such blows took place (i.e. during or after the battle), under what conditions, nor what weapons were used; these questions are mainly unanswerable, but nonetheless important.
Moreover, these injuries are the exception rather than the rule. As I indicated, I believe such blows are possible under the right conditions, but not common.

Zincorium
2006-02-26, 02:35 PM
For the record, as a GM I've always thought of exotic weapons as those that are simply too difficult or pointless to institute as a commonly taught weapon, but have certain advantages.
The main one that comes to mind is the fact that the way you use and wield the weapon is almost by definition unfamiliar to your most common opponents, who have trained against and fought against others with a standard set of swords, polarms, axes, or whatever is common in that region.
While they may have a great deal of experience countering the ones they have fought against, they would have to at least watch for a second you using this new weapon before they could adapt their training and instincts to protect themselves.

That said, I have run across the concept of a sword with the grip sticking at a right angle to the blade, with part of the sword's length (unsharpened, unbeveled even if possible) running back along the forearm of the user and secured by a leather strap. It seems to me that the key advantage of such an arrangement would be the difficulty in disarming you, much the same idea as a locked gauntlet.
Other possible reasons for attempting to use it (That I can think of, possibly horribly wrong) would be the ability to use your entire forearm instead of just your wrist and hand when blocking a larger, heavier type of weapon (greataxe or greatsword), a faster reaction time due to the portion behind the grip acting as a pommel with greater leverage, and a stronger piercing strike when used as a punching dagger.
The length of the fantasy model of this a friend of mine had was approximately three and a half feet long overall, with one and a quarter foot placed behind the handle.

What I'm wondering is, provided someone was crazy enough to use it, good enough to survive their first few fights, and dedicated enough to the concept not to give it up in favor of a more standard weapon, what kind of advantages could they possibly develope into a style of some sort?

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-26, 02:53 PM
I'm not 100% sure about your description. Is the weapon you're describing a sword strapped under a person't forearm with a grip for the hand to to secure it?

Is the weapon you mean something like bloodrayne's? http://www.ksymena.pl/archiwum/bloodrayne%201.jpg

Zincorium
2006-02-26, 03:17 PM
Somewhat similiar, yes, but far plainer,with a straight, one-sided blade, and tougher and more obvious strap attaching to the arms.
Also, was wondering if it would be practical to have a bracer of some sort made along with the blade that would form a more stable and comfortable attachment point.
I have never played/seen any of the bloodrayne games or movies, but from descriptions I've located off the internet, the blades she has do have some sort of hinge or pivot point. This would probably either make make it more fragile or too complicated for actual use, but I can see the advantages if you wanted to have your hands free.
A final thought would be a handguard of some sort located directly above the grip so that you could parry more effectively.

Oh, and if this kind of thing has been covered already, jus t direct me to where and I'll let you guys handle the more historical-based stuff

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-26, 03:34 PM
I don't know whether it's been covered already.

About the weapon: I think I have a good idea of what mean now.

A weapon like that would indeed be good at blocking attacks (not straight blocks, which shouldn't be done if possible anyways, but active blocks), but it can not reach the same tip-velocity as a normal sword because you're not using the wrist.

The best way to use such a weapon I believe, is as a parry and stab weapon, occasionally cutting, but the cuts won't have that much power behind em. I think this is a very nice contender for two-weapon fighting, focusing on a quick, up close, parry-stab style of combat.

Fhaolan
2006-02-26, 04:17 PM
That said, I have run across the concept of a sword with the grip sticking at a right angle to the blade, with part of the sword's length (unsharpened, unbeveled even if possible) running back along the forearm of the user and secured by a leather strap. It seems to me that the key advantage of such an arrangement would be the difficulty in disarming you, much the same idea as a locked gauntlet.

I've seen historical punch-daggers that resemble this description, some of which had suprisingly long blades, but nothing quite long enought to qualify as a 'sword'.

In any case... let me think this one through. It would be very good at doing solid blocks, but not slip blocks or parries because those depend on wrist flexibility.

If the grip comes out of the edge of the blade, I think there would be a tendency to block with the edge, which is usually a bad thing as the edge will develop micro-fractures leading to breakage. This could be overcome with training and experience, but as far as I can tell, it's an awkward motion. If the grip was coming out of the flat of the blade, you would be blocking with the flat, which is better.

You wouldn't get quite as good a chopping strike out of it as a normal sword, again because you've lost wrist flexibility. Pull and push cuts, as well as thrusts, however, are very good with this kind of setup.

So, I believe I am agreeing with Bug-a-boo here. Technically feasable, but not what I would call 'optimal'.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-26, 04:29 PM
Agreed with the above, except for only one minor point:

If the grip would come out the edge of the blade, it would actually make it easier to parry with the flat (assuming I have the setup correct in my mind), the motion akin to blocking with the back of your arm.

The parry motion itself would initially be quick and strong (since the blade has to follow the motion of the arm), but it would be neigh impossible to parry And attack with. Which is why it should probably always be best to use in a two-weapon fashion.

Edmund
2006-02-26, 08:11 PM
Other possible reasons for attempting to use it (That I can think of, possibly horribly wrong) would be the ability to use your entire forearm instead of just your wrist and hand when blocking a larger, heavier type of weapon (greataxe or greatsword), a faster reaction time due to the portion behind the grip acting as a pommel with greater leverage, and a stronger piercing strike when used as a punching dagger.

What I'm wondering is, provided someone was crazy enough to use it, good enough to survive their first few fights, and dedicated enough to the concept not to give it up in favor of a more standard weapon, what kind of advantages could they possibly develope into a style of some sort? Well, most of the advantages have already been stated, but there are a number of problems with this weapon.

1) It's offset. Because of this, your thrusts aren't going to be as strong as a punching dagger's. I don't exactly know the mechanics behind it, but I do know that's how it's going to be.

2) It's short. Longer weapons (your run-of-the-mill arming sword) have a reach advantage. That's not good.

3) Parries with this weapon would be extremely dangerous. It has no guard whatsoever so a blade could skitter off and smack your hand. Edge parrying could shatter the weapon, or bend it.

4) Every time it hits something harder than talc, it's going to hurt. All of that impact is going to go into your forearm on a relatively thin line, and that will bruise you pretty badly.

5) A wooden shield is basically better. It's wider, thicker, and can still be used to beat people. It just can't cut. Put on spikes, though, and you can stab.

There are other problems that are relatively easy to solve.

I will say, though, that I have seen a karate demonstration where a friend of mine used what basically resembled police batons in a style that might befit your fantasy weapon. I don't know much about Eastern Martial Arts, so someone else will have to elaborate on it. They were rather short, and lacked straps.


Going back to a previous question: I doubt that swinging an axe around your head would build up more momentum than a regular swing. Part of the problem is that you have to twist your wrists around, which lessens the power behind it.

Another part is that you're basically relying on your wrists to keep the axe up. I don't think you can get it going fast enough to rely on centripetal force.

Last, you're leaving all of your body wide open. If you're fighting some fellow with a spear, sword, axe, or particularly pointy scissors, they're going to take advantage of that.

While with high sword guards, you can bring the weapon down quickly to defend against blows, since you're twirling the axe, you're going to have trouble changing the direction of the force.

That's my take on it, anyway.

Fade
2006-02-26, 09:30 PM
The baton styled weapons are called Tonfas and were fairly rare, as far as I know, and are more of a weapon added later to martial arts for variety. (I think they're Korean) In all truth, I don't know that much about that, so don't quote me on it. The bladed weapon with a 90 degree handle is a very bad idea. It is much more efficient and effective to simply turn a weapon to the side with your wrist, as opposed to your entire forearm. Even with a guard for your hand, more of your hand sticks out, and is more likely to be cut by a blade than if your hand was on a normal handle. The other problem is that if you drop it with your hand, it's still connected to your forearm, and is going to be hard to get a hold of.

As for swinging a weapon above your head: Commonly this was a more flashy move, in some cases, it does add more momentum to the swing, but for a less balanced weapon, like an axe, it more likely just hurts your wrist and looks somewhat intimidating.

To the leaving your body open: If you know how to spin the weapon above your head, it can be very effective as a blocking/disarming move, especially if you catcht the other weapon on the crossguard or possibly beard of your weapon. The other advantage of spinning it above your head is that you can pull it into your waist and reverse the momentum very quickly, added power by shoving your waist in the direction that you're swinging. If this is the way you're fighing with aan axe, you lose this advantage somewhat because of the lack of balance.

As to the knight/horse problem: An axe would seem much more likely to cut through and kill the horse, but quite simply, it's very near impossible to do that. First, you're cutting in the same direction that the horse is running, which takes away a ton of the speed and power that you put into your weapon, and makes it so that you have to swing the weapon much, much faster than the horse is running. Since it's incredibly hard to do that with the heay weapon you would need to go all the way through just the horse, I doubt that this is common. A more prevalent method of getting rid of a mounted opponent is to either knock him from his horse, with a spear or other long weapon, or to cut the legs out from underneath the steed, which was commonly done with a bladed polearm, such as a halberd or pudao. The reason for using a polearm is obvious: you can hold it against the oncoming force more effectively. With one hand at the base of the pole, and the other closer to the blade, you have more leverage and a steadier grip against a horse's momentum. A rarer, but still existent method of getting rid of a mounted opponent is to cut the head off of the horse. As far as I know, the only weapons meant to do this are huge, two handed swords, and not too many of them are around.

Silivren
2006-02-26, 09:51 PM
It was my impression that the modern "police club" actually IS a tonfa, adopted by police forces along with basic martial arts self defense training, and replacing the older "billy club", which was basically a small club with a strap. I'd be interested to know if anybody has more concrete information, though.

Furanku_S
2006-02-27, 12:07 AM
Well, they look like tonfa, but do they use them like tonfa? I find myself having trouble imagining some of the local police possessing any extensive martial arts training.

Fhaolan
2006-02-27, 12:19 AM
Well, they look like tonfa, but do they use them like tonfa? *I find myself having trouble imagining some of the local police possessing any extensive martial arts training.

You might be surprised, actually. There are several former and active police officers in my stage-combat group, and they have told me about some of their hand-to-hand combat training. The average police officer may not be as proficient with the baton as a martial arts expert might be, but they are trained to a base level of skill. Apparantly there are advanced courses that would qualify them for certain positions that require higher hand-to-hand skills. I have to admit I was unable to follow the conversation past that point because they devolved into cop jargon that I didn't understand. :)

Matthew
2006-02-27, 12:22 AM
I've certainly heard that this is the case; especially for Riot Police roles.

Fhaolan
2006-02-27, 12:29 AM
Agreed with the above, except for only one minor point:

If the grip would come out the edge of the blade, it would actually make it easier to parry with the flat (assuming I have the setup correct in my mind), the motion akin to blocking with the back of your arm.

The parry motion itself would initially be quick and strong (since the blade has to follow the motion of the arm), but it would be neigh impossible to parry And attack with. Which is why it should probably always be best to use in a two-weapon fashion.

Wait, let me think this one through again... Okay, I think I see the disagreement. Once you've strapped this thing to your arm, you can't rotate the wrist to present a flat or edge. So, if you strap it so that the blade is beneath the arm so that the grip is vertical like a joystick (when the weapon is pointing straight forward), you get one set of blocks. If you strap it so that it's beside the arm, with the grip horizontal like an airplane's throttle lever, you get a different set of blocks. In my mind's eye, I was obviously strapping it on differently than Bug-a-boo. :)

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-27, 05:51 AM
I'm still not 100% sure of my view of how it's strapped tho ???

Should I perhaps upload a drawing of some potential strapping styles for some visual aid? I've got a free morning anyways

Ryujin
2006-02-27, 07:25 AM
As to the knight/horse problem: An axe would seem much more likely to cut through and kill the horse, but quite simply, it's very near impossible to do that. First, you're cutting in the same direction that the horse is running, which takes away a ton of the speed and power that you put into your weapon, and makes it so that you have to swing the weapon much, much faster than the horse is running. Since it's incredibly hard to do that with the heay weapon you would need to go all the way through just the horse, I doubt that this is common. A more prevalent method of getting rid of a mounted opponent is to either knock him from his horse, with a spear or other long weapon, or to cut the legs out from underneath the steed, which was commonly done with a bladed polearm, such as a halberd or pudao. The reason for using a polearm is obvious: you can hold it against the oncoming force more effectively. With one hand at the base of the pole, and the other closer to the blade, you have more leverage and a steadier grip against a horse's momentum. A rarer, but still existent method of getting rid of a mounted opponent is to cut the head off of the horse. As far as I know, the only weapons meant to do this are huge, two handed swords, and not too many of them are around.

The Norman cavalry had an unpleasant surprise at Hastings when they learned firsthand that the Saxon Huscarls still used axes with 5-foot long hafts wielded with both hands.

pincushionman
2006-02-27, 11:39 AM
...Going back to a previous question: I doubt that swinging an axe around your head would build up more momentum than a regular swing. Part of the problem is that you have to twist your wrists around, which lessens the power behind it.

Another part is that you're basically relying on your wrists to keep the axe up. I don't think you can get it going fast enough to rely on centripetal force.

Last, you're leaving all of your body wide open. If you're fighting some fellow with a spear, sword, axe, or particularly pointy scissors, they're going to take advantage of that...
I'm not sure if I'm thinking of what you're trying to describe, but there are situations in splitting wood where "swinging your axe around your head" is a pretty good description.

See, the normal stroke for using a splitting maul is to hold the handle at each end (head on the "strong arm" end), then heft it up above your head and slide your strong hand back until you have both ends at the "right" end, and you're holding the tool way up over your head. Then you let it fall on the wood, using what limited strength and leverage you have to guide it to the right spot.

Now, sometimes that swing doesn't have enough energy to split the wood. You can't put any more force behind the swing, the physics are all wrong. You can't bring the maul farther back behind your head and get a harder swing that way, it's too heavy (if you were using an axe, you can bring the head ALL the way back for a more energetic swing, but I'm talking about a maul here - same length, way heavier). But you have to do something, so there's a technique where you start the same way, but instead of lifting it straight up, you heft it around behind you and over your head and down as I've described with the normal swing. This only works if you get enough momentum at the start of the swing to get the maul back over your head; otherwise you end up falling on your ass. Which is dangerous if the maul is still back there and you land on it.

Even when you do it right, it's still less accurate (and thus more dangerous) than the regular up-and-down stroke. But it's a much more powerful swing, and it's far more intimidating (Oo you'll have those logs shaking in their boots when you -- oh, sorry. Couldn't resist). Seriously, it looks a lot cooler.

And I think it's a suitable swing for a combat axe, too. One fluid motion as opposed to lift axe behind, stop the axe, bring it down. Probably stronger, too, for the same reasons. It's not "being twirled around the head," but it's close enough that I think that kind of description might be more of an embellishment on reality.

Bee-R-CAN
2006-02-27, 01:06 PM
The tonfa is an Okinawan karate weapon. Okinawa was a group of islands off the Japanese main "island group" which was conquered, and the inhabitants forbidden to carry weapons. Hence the development of karate (unarmed combat) derived both locally and with Chinese kung fu influence, and the iconic karate weapons. Sai were used as handles for millstones, nunchaku used on grain or rice (I'm a bit hazy on that, since the only ones I've seen for that are six feet long per handle) bo (staffs) were "just" walking sticks, etc.

The tonfa can be used as a punching aid (long handle underneath the forearm, like the parrying blade above), which means you can block another weapon if desperate and the part that punches is only an inch or so across. If you've done physics you'll know that given a certain amount of force, a smaller area will have much more power per square inch.

The long part can be swung out for extra reach in a kind of backhanded slashing movement when it is flicked out on the "windup", plus you can change grip and use the handle to hook your opponent and so on. And you can just hit people over the head with it.

Qi_Chin
2006-02-28, 08:49 AM
I don't know if this has been asked before, but what's up with the siangham? I have never ever heard of such a weapon before D&D (and I've heard a lot about medieval weapons...). Not only that, I am unable to find any pictures or descriptions about it other than D&D-related.

Can anyone help me out on this?

EDIT: Spelling...

Qi

Fhaolan
2006-02-28, 01:02 PM
I don't know if this has been asked before, but what's up with the siangham? I have never ever heard of such a weapon before D&D (and I've heard a lot about medieval weapons...). Not only that, I am unable to find any pictures or descriptions about it other than D&D-related.

Can anyone help me out on this?

EDIT: Spelling...

Qi


It exists, but it's normally spelled a bit differently. Try looking up siangkam instead. There may be another, more correct, spelling as well but I don't know it.

Murky_Pool
2006-02-28, 03:28 PM
Non Ninja Question

I GM for a group of nutters (so pretty normal roleplayers really), recently they needed to extract some information from a captured bad guy.
The method of choice, after failing to bluff or trick him, was to kneecap him.

Now whenever I've read this it's been done using a .22
Being serious roleplayers they weren't armed with anything less than .45
So I ruled that they blew part of his leg off and he died (nothing even remotely resembling first aid on the character sheets).

I think it was realistic, but obviously the guys weren't so happy to miss out on useful info.

Anyone with more firearms knoweldge than me (that's pretty much anyone) tell me if the .45 kneecapping would work or have I been overly harsh to my wonderful group of dangerous nutters?

Thanks

Bug-a-Boo
2006-02-28, 04:30 PM
It depends on how they shot, but in anycase, the leg would still very well have been present. Even at that range, the .45 doesn't blow of limbs, if that's what you ruled.

Anyways, if they did a 'normal' kneecapping (gun to the side of the knee, aimed only at the foremost bones), the guy would've been able to survive that. If they shot through the back of the knee, there's a good chance the major artery got blown wide open, with too much open damage to patch up, and the guy would've died quickly of bloodloss. They might have been able to save him even then, if they had kept a torch handy... you know, to burn the wound close... (ouch...)

Murky_Pool
2006-02-28, 05:36 PM
Side or Back? No, this was gun barrel to kneecap stuff.
Well, it sounds like he wouldn't have been able to do much talking so I wasn't overly harsh. They can find a way round the problem.

Thanks

Bee-R-CAN
2006-03-01, 02:24 AM
I don't know if this has been asked before, but what's up with the siangham? I have never ever heard of such a weapon before D&D (and I've heard a lot about medieval weapons...). Not only that, I am unable to find any pictures or descriptions about it other than D&D-related.

Can anyone help me out on this?


http://www.shaolin-society.co.uk/weapons/fire.php

I think someone put it in to make people go "Huh?" It worked, too.

Qi_Chin
2006-03-01, 02:49 AM
Thanks for the link! Really cool weapons site, and now I know that it's not some sick thing made up by the authors (who would know of such a weapon to put in in the first place, though?...)

Qi

Bee-R-CAN
2006-03-01, 11:24 AM
I never heard about it until D&D either. I thought the diagram looked like a soldering iron from high school. I think they looked up martial arts weapons until they found one they could get away with put under the Piercing attribute. The kama would be a good candidate here since its not really a cutting weapon like a sword but a stabbing "dagger" at 90 degrees to the haft, but maybe they just wanted one from each type.

Orson_McNichol
2006-03-01, 12:26 PM
What's the deal with the long sword? I've heard that it's a weapon made up for D&D. But it seem like it's become pretty popular in movies and stuff. So if it's ficticious, where does it get it's roots?

Hurlbut
2006-03-01, 01:12 PM
What's the deal with the long sword? I've heard that it's a weapon made up for D&D. But it seem like it's become pretty popular in movies and stuff. So if it's ficticious, where does it get it's roots?
I always thought it refer to a long one handed sword.

Thomas
2006-03-01, 01:42 PM
What's the deal with the long sword? I've heard that it's a weapon made up for D&D. But it seem like it's become pretty popular in movies and stuff. So if it's ficticious, where does it get it's roots?

The D&D long sword would properly (and unspecifically) just be called "a sword." A historical longsword was a two-handed sword (but not a greatsword), used on foot, commonly against armored opponents, in a rather complicated and advanced style of fighting that involved all sorts of fancy moves (half-swording, morte-striking). I've often seen this type of sword referred to as a hand-and-a-half sword (although this doesn't indicate it was used with one hand, except for certain maneuvers).

Similarly, "broadsword" (a common term in medieval fantasy RPGs) does not accurately refer to any real sword (except, in rare cases when someone knows what they're talking about, certain swords of the 17th century and onward, including the schiavona, backswords, and some sabers).

Darkie
2006-03-01, 02:55 PM
Side or Back? No, this was gun barrel to kneecap stuff.
Well, it sounds like he wouldn't have been able to do much talking so I wasn't overly harsh. They can find a way round the problem.

Thanks
As Bug-a-Boo said, unless they hit something sensitive, the guys' not going to die immediately. You should see the people in ERs and what they survive. A lot of attempted suicides put three rounds into their skull from point blank and get themselves to ER.

The general consensus from ERs is "If you're going to do it, to it right, or you're just more work for us. High powered rifles and shotguns, please."

I recommend you look up the ballistics for various calibers, you'll notice precisely the difference between a .45 ACP and (for example) a .357 SIG or a .22 rimfire. I can't recall off-hand where that site is where they have the pictures from ballistic testing though... the first two inches or so tend not to be too interesting from a pistol hit.

pincushionman
2006-03-01, 04:21 PM
What's the deal with the long sword? I've heard that it's a weapon made up for D&D. But it seem like it's become pretty popular in movies and stuff. So if it's ficticious, where does it get it's roots?
D&D longsword seems to be most similar to a "knightly sword" or "arming sword," or maybe either the Nordic or Roman "spata." Real swords described as "longswords" are more likely the "bastard swords" or "hand-and-a-half" blades, which means while you could use it one handed at the beginning of the fight, you'd tire out sooner rather than later and you'd have to use two hands. Which is why it has the longer hilt.

Based on severely limited research. I'll defer to those who actually study such things.

Fhaolan
2006-03-01, 05:00 PM
What's the deal with the long sword? I've heard that it's a weapon made up for D&D. But it seem like it's become pretty popular in movies and stuff. So if it's ficticious, where does it get it's roots?

D&D weapon classification is a bit... wonky at times. Gygax et al who originally compiled the D&D weapon lists were not arms and armanent historians. So, there was a tendency to mislabel weapons and armor. Chain mail, for instance, is not a 'correct' term. I believe the current term is simply maille. Plate mail is nonsensical. Partial plate being the term I hear the most often.

When it came to swords, it was obvious that there were thousands of different 'types' of swords. Rather than trying to rectify all those lists of swords, they categorized them instead. 'Short' swords, 'Broad' swords, 'Long' swords, 'Two-handed' swords, and 'Bastard' swords. Unfortunately, those category names are also the names of specific types of swords, and it's not an exact match up. Different experts classify differently. For an example that caused a lot of scuffles on this board recently, some experts don't acknowledge 'bastard' swords as being an actual category as their opinion is that weapons are either designed to be used one-handed or two-handed, not both. More specific to your question, some experts say the term 'longsword' should be applied to a specific two-handed sword, rather than a one-handed sword. I have a 15th century Danish two-handed longsword in my collection. In D&D terms it would be a bastard sword as someone might be able to use it one-handed, but only with a lot of training and expertise.

Edmund
2006-03-01, 07:10 PM
http://www.shaolin-society.co.uk/weapons/fire.php

I think someone put it in to make people go "Huh?" It worked, too.

I wouldn't consider that website too reliable. One thing in particular that makes me flinch, then cringe is


The Japanese sword lost much of its prestige as a sidearm after World War II, but it still remains the most finely wrought steel weapon in the world. The legendary Damascus and Toledo blades or the Excalibur of English literature diminish when compared with the craftsmanship and quality invested in the ritual manufacture of the Japanese sword.

This isn't anywhere near the truth.

First, Excalibur is a fictional sword, so it shouldn't even be brought up.
Second: Damascus (Wootz) swords are far from 'diminished' by the quality of Japanese blades (I don't know very much about Toledo, but I'm guessing it's the same process). Wootz steel is sturdier and more homogenous than the piled, folded construction of Japanese swords.

It is also frequently stiffer, because of the higher carbon content, which is not necessarily a good thing, but allows for better edge retention. The particular nature of Wootz, however, allows it to cut (through?) a falling silk scarf, a feat which no other steel can do... It all has to do with microserrations and junk like that.

Another bit that makes my hackles rise:


When correctly made, the blade is light, well balanced, and combines great strength and with flexibility and resilience. The quality of the metal and forging allows the blade to be ground to a razor sharp edge.

Japanese blades, because of their differential hardening, are hardly flexible and resiliant. Their beveled construction also makes them stiffer than European and Middle-Eastern blades. This makes them rigid, and excellent for draw cutting, which is what they are meant for, but it does not make them 'super-swords' which is what the author seems to think.

Not to mention that the Japanese ore is very, very cruddy, which is why they are welded so much. The quality of the metal has nothing to do with their edge's shape (only the grindstone and the smith decide that). Edge retention, however, is regulated by the hardening method, the temper, and the carbon content.

Moving on

Regarding Longswords: They were used with two hands and one. I take this from, notably, Liberi (http://www.fioredeiliberi.org/gallery/albums/album07/SH5.jpg), Vadi (http://www.thearma.org/Manuals/VadiNewImages/Untitled-4.jpg) and Talhoffer (http://www.thearma.org/talhoffer/t10.htm). Any arms afficionados, historians, whatever, who argue that it was a solely one or two-handed weapon is wrong.

That is not, however, to say they were used with shields. The only instance of this I have seen is in a judicial duel as shown by Talhoffer. And judicial duels were often as much about show as about verdict... At least in Bavaria. (woman in the hole, strange duelling shields, etc.)

It is worth noting that it seems almost the only time one hand was used (in the non-judicial setting) was when the other hand was engaged in a grappling manoeuvre (grabbing the opponent's hilt, for example), and generally only for a singular attack (often a thrust to the vitals or face). These types of attacks, however, are quite useful and in all probability semi-frequent.

One hand was also used for reaching attacks, since you get greater distance using one hand than two, but these are risky and relatively rare.



Gygax & co do get weapon classification wrong. One example, apparently, is the gisarme/ranseur. Oakeshott describes the ranseur as a variation on the bill, and the gisarme as 'a very large and beautiful spear' and that 'it is more often called a partisan'. D&D switched the names around.

That's really just nit-picky stuff, in my opinion.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-01, 07:40 PM
2 things:

1) Japanese iron ore was inferior compared to european ore (as Edmund already mentioned). The whole process of heating and folding was to grind the impurities out of the metal. So forget about the whole "superior sword" thing.

2) Razor sharp edge is a foolish notion when it comes to swords. The reason is two-fold. For one, anything razor sharp can Not hold it's edge. It's just too thin. Second is resistence. A razor sharp edge will cut nicely intially, but the subsequent meat-to-metal friction will make it rediculously hard to cut through. That's why cutting swords like the katana have a thick edge bevel.

Matthew
2006-03-01, 09:54 PM
Ah, well. At least this time the discussion is in its proper setting.
I agree (or rather do not disagree) with what has been said so far regarding the Long Sword and what it represents in D&D, but I thought I'd add my two cents anyway.

For the purposes of D&D:

The 'Short Sword' is any two edged and pointed sword intended for single handed use with a blade measuring between 12" and 24". The majority of such weapons fall into the higher end of the range; most people consider blades longer than this to be 'Long', but there is some flexability. The hilt of such a weapon is about 6" (including guard, grip and pommel); ancient hilts were slightly longer (7") for balance, I'm told, as they were composed of lighter materials. Although listed as a Piercing / Thrusting Weapon for D&D, experimental archaeology suggests that it probably would have also delivered an effective cut / chop / slash (I'm not sure of the appropriate terminology). Gladius is the most frequently invoked historical example of a Short Sword in D&D.

The 'Long Sword' is any two edged and pointed sword intended for single handed use with a blade measuring between 24" and 36". The majority of such weapons fall into the 30" to 36" range; longer types also existed. Regarding the hilt, see the entry for the Short Sword, as pretty much the same applies. The Long Sword is listed as a Piercing / Slashing Weapon for D&D, but such blades were likely primarily intended for 'slashing.'

The 'Bastard Sword' is a variant on the Long Sword. It seems primarily intended for two handed use, though there is some controversy around this on the boards. [Note: Spending an Exotic Weapon Proficiency Feat allows you to use it in one hand, but ordinarily it is a Two Handed Martial Weapon]; for D&D purposes it includes blades measuring 36" to probably around (a more unrealistic and unlikely practical for one handed use) 48"; almost all historical example tend towards the lower end of the range. Shorter variants are possible. The hilt averages around 9" to 10". The sword is capable of delivering both piercing and slashing attacks, the blade type making individual swords better suited for one or the other, but this is irrelevant to D&D.

The Great Sword includes all two handed swords with blade and handle lengths that would absolutely preclude even conceiving of them being used in one hand; I usually imagine such weapons to have a blade length around 48" and a handle around 12" [i.e. something like this: http://ancientedge.com/product_184_detailed.html]
but everyone has their own view.

The Short Sword / Long Sword is roughly analogous to the Short Spear [of 3.0, now just the Spear] / Long Spear and Short Bow / Long Bow in the sense that they provide a precise gaming distinction that vaguely invokes historical types.

See the 'Weapon Equivalencies' thread for some (limited) discussion of historical equivalents to real world swords.

I hope that's helpful, I'm sure others will point out any mistakes.

Casualgamer
2006-03-01, 11:24 PM
The D&D long sword would properly (and unspecifically) just be called "a sword." A historical longsword was a two-handed sword (but not a greatsword), used on foot, commonly against armored opponents, in a rather complicated and advanced style of fighting that involved all sorts of fancy moves (half-swording, morte-striking). I've often seen this type of sword referred to as a hand-and-a-half sword (although this doesn't indicate it was used with one hand, except for certain maneuvers).

Similarly, "broadsword" (a common term in medieval fantasy RPGs) does not accurately refer to any real sword (except, in rare cases when someone knows what they're talking about, certain swords of the 17th century and onward, including the schiavona, backswords, and some sabers).

Actually, to my understanding, a longsword is simply a sword that is larger than a short sword. I may be wrong, I have nothing to base this off of but snippits of the history channel, and wikipedia, but I think that the word "longsword" could refer to a two handed sword, a hand and half sword, or simply a one handed sword that is larger than a shortsword: the classic D&D version.

Darkie
2006-03-01, 11:30 PM
I wouldn't consider that website too reliable.
I took one look at their "Ninja-to" entry (ie. its existance is treated seriously) and dismissed the website...

...not to mention my old swordmaster had a thick tome about the Shaolin monks, complete with lists of weapons (and a heck of a lot of Chinese text I can't read), and the site and the olde tome didn't match up.

Ryujin
2006-03-02, 12:43 AM
Chain mail, for instance, is not a 'correct' term. I believe the current term is simply maille. Plate mail is nonsensical. Partial plate being the term I hear the most often.

Blame it on 18th-century historians, who mistook 'maille' as a catch-all term for armour and decided to tack on 'chain' to make it more specific.

The basis for the term 'plate mail' most likely originated due to the propensity of some medieval writers of describing a lance, arrow or spear as having 'pierced plate & mail.' It's not really 'official' terminology.

A lot of Turkish/Mamluk armour in the fifteenth/sixteenth century is classified as 'mail & plates,' consisting of mail with various-sized plates linked directly to it. *The closest D&D equivalent would be 'banded mail'. * *Some notable examples can be found at the Tower Armouries. *The one shown below is from the Topkapi Palace in Turkey.

http://img221.imageshack.us/img221/7452/topkapiturk15cplate3fs.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

tgva8889
2006-03-02, 01:33 AM
The Short Sword / Long Sword is roughly analogous to the Short Spear [of 3.0, now just the Spear] / Long Spear and Short Bow / Long Bow in the sense that they provide a precise gaming distinction that vaguely invokes historical types.

Except that I'm pretty sure Shortbows are actually smaller than Longbows. Longbows were actually I believe very tall weapons that allowed more distance and power (thus the increased range and damage) while shooting. Unless that is what you meant by that. My vocabulary is really not too great.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 01:51 AM
That is indeed part of what I meant by that. I thought that sentence might be a little confusing; I was trying to express that D&D basically provides 'small' [i.e. Short Sword, Spear, Bow] and 'big' [i.e. Long Sword, Spear, Bow] variants for most standard weapons.

tgva8889
2006-03-02, 01:53 AM
Ah...that helps me understand.

Except the Short Sword in D&D doesn't deal Slashing damage (even though I would rule that it can) and the Longsword is anti-staby (which I would rule it could do as well).

Also, is a caber actually an efficient weapon?

Matthew
2006-03-02, 02:02 AM
D&D doesn't always model damage types very well; a Short Sword is capable of doing slashing damage in real life, but was probably primarily intended for thrusting. A Long Sword in D&D does both Piercing and Slashing Damage, but in reality a lot depends on the blade type. I would rule, for sake of simplicity, that both are capable of Slashing and Piercing Damage. This would be in line with Sword being a more versatile one handed weapon than axe, pick or mace.

I don't know what a 'caber' is, I'm afraid.

Darkie
2006-03-02, 02:04 AM
Isn't a caber a giant log that men in skirts toss around to show how manly they are? ;D

I'd never thought they had anything to do with warfare, though...

tgva8889
2006-03-02, 02:08 AM
True, but one of my books, I think it was a 3.0 book, said that a Caber was used for breaking up army formations...I don't believe that.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 02:13 AM
Then no. Don't use it if you prefer a more realistic combat style. As a rule of thumb, if something seems implausible, it probably is.

Bee-R-CAN
2006-03-02, 02:13 AM
I wouldn't consider that website too reliable.

Nah. But it showed what a siangham is, and that it isn't made up.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 03:23 AM
True, but one of my books, I think it was a 3.0 book, said that a Caber was used for breaking up army formations...I don't believe that.

*gets a mental image of a formation getting clobbered by large, scotsmen-thrown tree-trunks...*

hehehehe...

On the subject of longswords and bastardswords, I'm staying the hell out of it before Gorbash comes down on my head again.

I'm just going to post one link, for those curious to what a longsword is (the swords used in this link are real life longswords - subtype: bastardswords)

http://www.thehaca.com/essays/armoredlongsword.html

On a side note, for anyone interested in further researching, the ARMA site is always a good starting point.

Donsic
2006-03-02, 10:29 AM
A lot of weapons like axes or swords were made double sided simply because inferior tempering techniques and steel made metal hard enough to hold a edge so brittle the blade would chip as soon as it struck anything hard
Though crappy forgeing technquics do exist, The main problem is that steel was rare then. Swords differ from axes in many ways but on the back slash of swords can be used more deffensivly. Chips weren't realy a problem either. The edge chips for 3 reasons: First low quality materials, Second improper use, and the last in the type of edge. See, Finely sharped edges are more atune to chipping then duller blades. I say this wasn't a problem because when people started using iorn blades they also wore breast plates or fullplate. Daggers were usefull at finding cracks in the armor but sword, not so much. One would pummel ones enemy until you cave in their chest piece so they can't breath or until they showed you a weakness in their armor. For this reason swords weren't all that sharp.

Edmund
2006-03-02, 11:30 AM
Though crappy forgeing technquics do exist, The main problem is that steel was rare then. It couldn't have been too rare, because if it was, then the plentiful steel-edged and steel-cored knives found in Novgorod (with only two pure iron examples) are the exception, which I doubt.


Chips weren't realy a problem either. The edge chips for 3 reasons: First low quality materials, Second improper use, and the last in the type of edge. See, Finely sharped edges are more atune to chipping then duller blades. You forget the temper, as I mentioned above. A blue temper and a straw-yellow or bronze temper can be the difference between a chipped edge (very bad) and a folded one (not as much).


I say this wasn't a problem because when people started using iorn blades they also wore breast plates or fullplate. Not really. If you look at the Doric Greeks, the Romans, Gauls, British and Iberian Celts, etc. all of them had steel or steel-and-iron weapons. This is long before the invention of Full Plate. Breast plate was more common in the Mediterranean, but the British Celts, for example, lack these armours.


Daggers were usefull at finding cracks in the armor but sword, not so much. One would pummel ones enemy until you cave in their chest piece so they can't breath or until they showed you a weakness in their armor. For this reason swords weren't all that sharp. Swords were actually quite sharp. There are a fair number historical examples that still have their edge, and it certainly isn't dull.

You would never, never, attack the breastplate with a sword for the intent of destroying it. That's absolute suicide, both for you and the blade. Look at some of Liberi's or Vadi's (it's quite similar) work on full-plate fighting. Attacks were made to the face, armpit, and in one particular move, hand, but not the chest.

I also think you oversimplify medieval fighting. It wasn't mad, blind beating at one another, but a complex system, in my opinion more complex than modern fencing (because you could attack with more than one end of your weapon).

Fhaolan
2006-03-02, 11:57 AM
Except that I'm pretty sure Shortbows are actually smaller than Longbows. Longbows were actually I believe very tall weapons that allowed more distance and power (thus the increased range and damage) while shooting. Unless that is what you meant by that. My vocabulary is really not too great.

The terms 'shortbow' and 'longbow' in D&D are equivalent to 'shortsword' and 'longsword'. The way D&D uses the terms doesn't map precisely to the way arms and armanent historians use the terms. Horsebow (of Hungarian or Mongolian style), warbow, siegebow, selfbow, recurve bow, English and Welsh longbows, Assyrian bow, yumi, etc. Each has significantly different construction techniques and properties. Rather than stating out each type of bow, D&D simplifies the whole mess down to 'short' or 'long' with the additional descriptor 'composite'.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 03:08 PM
That's a nice link Bug-a-Boo. Here's another more general military interest link for anyone who is not aware of it:

http://www.deremilitari.org/

Personally, I quite enjoyed the recent debate about Bastard Swords on the Weapons Equivalence thread, though it was in the wrong place and got a little out of hand. I'm going to post something about Pole Arms there soon, I'd appreciate your input.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 04:06 PM
Mmmmm, I'd love to respond to that, but I've been effectively banned from posting anything in the WE thread. :-/

If you bring up any discussion points that might get off-topic there over to here, I've love to join in ofcourse :)

[Edit] For the real do it yourselvers, the talhoffer fighting manual has scanned and put on the net, for those who'd like to take a look for themselves, here it is, enjoys!: http://mhewer.club.fr/Library/Talhoffer/page_01.htm

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 06:16 PM
Lookie here!

This new interview is an interesting read for any who'd like to know a little more about swords in general. Everybody, have a look!

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/PaulC_interview2006.htm

Matthew
2006-03-02, 06:33 PM
Very nice interview. Interesting, balanced and reinforcing.

Ryujin
2006-03-02, 08:30 PM
It couldn't have been too rare, because if it was, then the plentiful steel-edged and steel-cored knives found in Novgorod (with only two pure iron examples) are the exception, which I doubt.


Steel was not really rare, but simply time- & material-intensive to produce, given the state of metallurgical technology at the time. India, for example, was already exporting high-quality wootz steel to the Romans by 500 AD.

It's to be kept in mind that poor forging techniques can and will ruin even good quality steel. Even modern-day knifemakers have trouble with over-tempering & such. The quality of the weapon is only as good as the quality of its maker, after all.

Crud
2006-03-02, 09:48 PM
Hi. I've got a question that I wanted to bring over from the two-Weapon fighting thread. It involves the feasiblity of using the shield-bash in combat. here's my post and Mathew's response. I'm interested in what people think on this one:

My first inclination would definately be to side with the use of shield bashing as a pretty common occurance, but I wonder how effective it would have been against a similarly armed and armoured foe. Certainly Shield wall or phalanx warfare involved masses of troops forming an interlocked wall of shields and basically pushing against eachother in a rugby type scrum, but from what I have read most of the killing that went on in these battles was done by weapons slashing out over or under the enemy shield to injure the legs or groin, or to cause a fatal head wound. I remember reading a study that said that something like 27 of 29 of the bodies recovered from the battle of Towton (War of the Roses) died from massive head trauma. I can also recall several ancient attributions of men 'pouring out their lives upon the ground' from groin injuries delivered from beneath a shield.

I'll give one example I found of a more personal combat though. It is a description of a duel from Egil's Saga, one of the Icelandic sagas. It was written down ca. 1230, and refers to events from the 10th century. This is a situation where you would expect shield bashing to be a valid offensive tactic, moreso perhaps than in a shield wall, where it would prettymuch amount to simply pushing against enemy's wall.


"When Egil stepped forward, he was wearing a helmet and holding a shield before him, a halberd in his hand and the sword Dragvendil hanging from his right arm. It was the custom for duellers to keep their sword ready at hand to use whenever they wanted rather than have to draw it. atli had the same outfit as Egil...

As soon as they were ready to fight, they each ran at the other flinging their spears. Neither spear struck the shield but hit the ground, so each of the fighters took his sword and began hewing away at close range. Atli refused to give an inch. they struck at each other hard and fast and soon their shields were useless. When atli's was shattered he threw it away, took his sword in both hands and laid on furiously. Egil struck him on the shoulder but the sword didn't bite...

Egil saw that things couldn't go on like this. his own shield was useless by this time so he threw away both shield and sword, made a rush at Atli and grappled with him. He was the stronger and Atli fell backwards. Then Egil leaned over and bit right through his throat, and that was how Atli died."

Palsson, Hermann; and Edwards, Paul(translators). Egil's Saga. Penguin books. P 174,175.

there are several other duels described in the Saga, none of which describe the shield being used offensively, but all of which show a focus on its defensive use, and a general strategy of trying to destroy or remove the opponant's shield to give an advantage against them. I think this passage does a great job of showing the fury and hard pressed nature of such personal combats. I don't think a fight like this would leave an opening for a shield bash, and if it was used it would be a very risky gambit as the shield was otherwise being used actively to block the opponant's cuts.



Interesting quotation; I suspect, though, that it is a highly stylised combat description, relying on topos and convention, as most poetic renditions do. This does not preclude accuracy, but it is worth bearing in mind. It reminds me of personal combats depicted in the Iliad.
Bear in mind Shield Punch only does 1D3 Damage, it's purpose is to knock a man off balance, not deal a death blow.
The idea of two shield walls pushing against each other in 'rugby style' may itself be misleading. It is difficult to say with any accuracy how battles were really fought. I have always found this image somewhat implausable, as it seems to relyo n two equal forces willing to get that close to each other on masse, but let's leave this for the real world weapons and armour question thread


Just as an Edit here, I'd like to point out that 2 of the 3 duels in question took place as part of the legal system of trial by combat. Egil was the 'plaintif' in this case, and in the other he was the 'defendant'. The third duel took place as part of a blood-feud. All three were related to legal disputes over land rights. It is true that Egil's Saga is heavy on mythical and poetic elements, and it is impossible to know how accurately the Skaldic tradition maintained this story between the historical occurance and its 13th century recording.

tgva8889
2006-03-02, 09:52 PM
I can only imagine a shield bash as a surprising attack: who expects to be slammed with a shield? Also, a shield would be the type of thing used for a Bull Rush, not really an attack. It would be hard to hit someone with a shield if you were holding it correctly, so it would probably not be a great attack. That's just my opinion though.

Crud
2006-03-02, 10:04 PM
Bull rushing is a whole other matter. there is some attribution of a tactic which i think was known as the 'Boar's-head, or 'boar's-tusk' ??? in which the shield wall would be formed into a wedge to try to break a gap through the opponant's wall. The source, which I read some time ago but will try to dig up, thought that the tactic was a holdover from a similar Roman tactic. Again, if someone with ready knowledge of this tactic's historical use could give a yea or nay, i would certainly appreciate it. As mathew wrote, it's difficult to know when to trust the sources on things like this.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 10:07 PM
I found this reference; I think it may well be refuting me:

Combat techniques

Analysis of battle damage to weapons from the massive Roman Iron Age deposit of Nydham indicated the primary use for the large round shields was in fending off missiles, while sword duels were conducted blade on blade (Schloß Gottorf: Archäologische Landesmuseum der Christian-Albrechts Universität, Schleswig Germany: pers. obs. 1994). However, the use of shields in hand to hand combat is recorded in customs such as the holmgang duel. The heavy iron construction of the Viking Age boss is unlike the Roman Iron Age examples of thin bronze, perhaps indicating a change to a hand-to-hand fighting style in which parrys with the boss were possible. The thin boards would split easily, and could perhaps have been deliberately made so, in order to snare an attacker's blade.

http://members.ozemail.com.au/~chrisandpeter/shield/shield.html

Raum
2006-03-02, 10:09 PM
A large part of how shields (and weapons) were used depends on the technology and, to a lesser extent, the wealth of the period. Early shields were largely (or solely) made of wood and hide. During these eras the shield was relatively innefective as an offensive weapon and was generally used as ablative armor replaced between battles. The Roman pilum was specifically crafted to make this type of shield unusable. It would penetrate the wooden shields, sticking in place, and the soft iron pilum would bend...making it very difficult to continue using that shield.

By the time of jousting, technology and wealth had changed allowing shields to be made primarily of steel. While I doubt the shield was used offensively during jousts, it was a potential weapon for foot fighters of the era.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 10:14 PM
Aha, comfirmation it seems...

[Last line is most important]

A sword can cut quite well from almost all angles around or underneath a shield. Indeed, since the shield side is so well guarded, the opponent is the one limited to attacking to only one side –the non-shield side. While a large shield does indeed close off a tremendous amount of targets to an attacker, it also limits, to a far smaller degree, freedom to attack by the shield user. As it comes out from behind their shield to strike, an attacker’s weapon can be counter-timed and counter-cut –and this is indeed one tactic to employ against a shield user. Yet a shield user’s attacks are not at all one sided. A shield can be used offensively in a number of ways and at very close range.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm

Matthew
2006-03-02, 10:24 PM
Some of this may depend on a distinction between 'Shield Punch' and 'Shield Bash.' I'm primarily thinking of the latter and I suspect any shield would be good for this, wooden or steel. This article at Arma seems to be suggesting that a wooden shield could be used offensively, though he refrains from describing precisely how.

Despite its considerable reach though, there are numerous techniques for infighting using the long-sword’s “half” guards and there are many techniques for striking with a shield. But then the katana is very good at close-in slices, which a straight blade cannot effectively do nearly as well. Of course, against good armor such actions can be negligible and fighting against shields was relatively unknown in Japan. So on one hand, the knight’s fighting style –either of close-in sword and shield clashing, or large passing steps with long-reaching shearing cuts and plunging thrusts with a longsword or greatsword –might prove decisive. On the other, the intense, focused, counter-cutting style of the samurai with his razor-keen blade and own experience in armored fighting might prove decisive. Then again, maybe they’d kill one another?

http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm

Crud
2006-03-02, 10:48 PM
A shield can be used offensively in a number of ways and at very close range.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/knightvs.htm



That's a very interesting article. I wonder if any of the medieval 'knight's manuals' cover tactics like this? i know they were largely meant as instructional manuals on etiquite, but larger scale tactics at least were taken from sources like Vegetius. I suppose it would really also depend on the quality of the shield as the author said. The wooden round shield described in Egil's saga would have fallen under his category of ablative armor, but later steel shields and bucklers would have stood up to battering and possibly would have been more useful on the offensive. I guess it really comes down to tactics though, and as the author says those are really unclear in the Medieval European period. this is especially true, since, as he says in his footnotes, a lot of the people who did in fact leave us written record of these battles had no first hand experience with warfare themselves.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 10:58 PM
Well, it certainly solves our dilemna with a resounding "possibly." Whatever, the shield seems to have been potentially an offensive weapon as I suggested. Horrah for me! Back to the Two Weapon Fighting Thread.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 11:06 PM
Did someone say Shield Techniques? :)

http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBuckler.htm
http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBucklerP2.htm
http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBucklerP3.htm
http://www.thearma.org/essays/SwordandBucklerP4.htm

http://www.thearma.org/essays/LeignitzerSandBSetplays.htm


[edit] yes yes, I know these are about bucklers. But bucklers have a longer historical tradition then shields, and are in many ways more effective. These aticles should give some idea of how shields and bucklers in general were used.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 11:12 PM
Hey Bug-a-boo, thanks for that; what do you think of this little titbit. (believe me, I have no desire to reignite the Bastard Sword Controversy, I'm just interested in your opinion)

Central to each of these categories, however, was the use of the long sword. The German long sword typically measured from 48" to 52" in length. Although the grip was long enough to allow two-handed use, the German long sword was light enough to wield one-handed when fighting on horseback. When fighting on foot against an unarmored opponent, the weapon was used with both hands to cut and thrust; when fighting an armored foe, the left hand gripped the middle of the blade, enabling it to be used like a short spear to stab at the joints in the armor. Master Liechtenauer’s teachings primarily focus on the long sword, since he felt the principles of its use were applicable to all other weapons. The masters who followed in his footsteps shared this sentiment, expressing it frequently in their manuals.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/straight.htm

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 11:25 PM
I counter that with two points:

1) The weapon is light enough to be swung one handed on horseback. This is important, because he goes on to mention that it is used two handed when on foot. Now add to that a horseman would need one hand on the reigns 90% of the time, and you can see why it's logical that it would be swung one handed from time to time. It doesn't mean however, that it's an effective way to fight. Afterall, the sword isn't a main weapon on horseback. At most, it's a backup weapon because the main weapon was lost, but the horseman doesn't want to dismount and possibly lose his horse. Add to that that the weight-balance issue is much less of an issue when fighting from horseback. A lance isn't a one handed weapon, yet it is used one handed when on horseback, because that's the only way to properly do it from there.

2) Take a look at the first four links above. In all the depictions of warriors armed with buckler and sword, there are only two to be found with warriors wielding a sword with a grip long enough for two hands. And even in those two, the grip doesn't look like any grip designed for two hands... at most, they only look like a somewhat longer single-handed grip. I believe the lack of two-handed swords used with bucklers in all those pictures is quite telling.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 11:36 PM
Interesting points. I found some other references as well, the guest lecture on the development of swords through time similarly mentions the potential of a sword with elongated handle to be used in one hand.

http://www.thearma.org/essays/nobest.htm

I take your points, though; that's why, as well as for Game Balance reasons, the Bastard Sword under my House Rules continues to do 1D8 Damage when used in one hand.
Interestingly, in the 2.0 A&EG, a similar point is made in the blurb that the Bastard Sword does less damage

*Bastard Sword
* * *Also known as the hand-and-a-half sword, the bastard sword derives its name from the fact that it is halfway between the two-handed sword and the long sword.
* * *The bastard sword has a double-edged blade and a long grip, which can accommodate both hands if preferred. The overall length of the bastard sword ranges between four feet and four feet ten inches.
* * *Some bastard swords are equipped with knuckle guards, and others have asymmetrical pommels shaped like animal or bird heads.
* * *
* * *"The bastard sword is an excellent, versatile edged weapon which can be used one-or two-handed. Using it two-handed gives a warrior better damage potential, but makes him unable to use a shield. It is also a slower weapon. Using it one-handed allows the use of a shield, but causes less damage, comparable to that of a long sword.''
-- Lord Jon Ironedge, Ruler of Hawkhaven

But when it comes down to it the listing reflects no such thing.

One Handed 1D8 / 1D12
Two Handed 2D4 / 2D8

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 11:37 PM
[edit] edited for stupidity.... the sleepyness is getting to me. :P

[edit2] About that essay - yeah, I had noticed that too. But after more research, I feel I have to disagree with him. I should mention it's not a settled point elsewhere either. Even on the ARMA forums there are still discussions on the subject. I am on the camp of "it was not so" because I believe there just isn't enough evidence to support it. It's not the first time I disagreed with an article I might add. In the ARMA forum, there's still a large thread with my view on the knights vs samurai thing, since my view differed from that of the article. (basically, the article says it could've gone either way, while I say that of we look at circumstance - i.e. what are they likely to be armed with when they meet - the knight would often have the advantage)

[Edit3] I would like to point out for the rest, that the above mentioned link by Mattew is a very very good read. Be sure to take a look at it.

Matthew
2006-03-02, 11:38 PM
Not in 2.0. Those are Medium then Large target stats. Longsword is identical. Actually under the Complete Fighter rules it does more when used in two hands as you get a +1 Damage bonus when specialised in Two Handed style, but only for weapons not intended for two handed use.

Gorbash Kazdar
2006-03-02, 11:43 PM
Comrade Gorby: No game rule discussion in this thread!

Happy posting! :)

Matthew
2006-03-02, 11:50 PM
Ooops forgot about that.

Errrm...

Has anyone seen this article before; it's a pretty interesting discussion of medieval Byzantine Armour; the rest of the site is a bust, though:

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/KKK.html

I think it relates to that earlier post about potential historical examples Banded Mail.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-02, 11:53 PM
Did I miss something while editing?


Btw, for those interested, this was my take on the whole samurai - knight thingy. It's a bit of a messy thread tho, and please don't post in it, the discussion is long dead.

http://www.thearma.org//forum/showflat.php?Cat=&Board=openresearch&Number=17970& page=&view=&sb=&o=&fpart=1&vc=1

[edit] for those reading the thread I posted - make sure to read the whole thing. There were some mistakes I made in the original post that couldn't be edited, and during the course of the thread more information was gained. Just skimming through the first page would be misinforming.

idksocrates
2006-03-03, 12:26 AM
I made a weapon for a Dnd character that is a two-bladed sword that can detach into to longswords.

I've seen a magic item in AEG, but I've never seen any mundane way of doing this. Is this because of some balancing issue that goes into the two-bladed sword that prevents this from being effective?

Darkie
2006-03-03, 12:39 AM
Given the non-existance of a two-bladed sword in warfare in reality... the major problem would be structural integrity, depending on how exactly you're wielding this two-bladed sword.

Gorbash Kazdar
2006-03-03, 12:54 AM
I made a weapon for a Dnd character that is a two-bladed sword that can detach into to longswords.

I've seen a magic item in AEG, but I've never seen any mundane way of doing this. Is this because of some balancing issue that goes into the two-bladed sword that prevents this from being effective?
Besides some inherent problems with the concept of a two-bladed sword to begin with, having one that could detach in this manner via mechanical means would make it even less useful as a weapon. It's unlikely any attachment method that could be undone quickly enough to be useful in combat would be strong enough to withstand the forces put upon the weapon in battle without a) detaching on it's own at an inopportune moment, b) bending or deforming in such a way as to either make it unusable or adversely affect the balance of the weapon, or c) adversely affecting the wielder's ability to use the weapon simply be being there (interfering with hand placement and movement, creating poor balance, making the weapon overly heavy or large).

Darkie
2006-03-03, 03:35 AM
And of course, if it's attached via mechanical means and bends at the connections during use as a double-bladed sword, you've just essentially fused it into an unbalanced double-bladed sword, or broken it into two seperate swords with slightly off-grips.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-03, 05:03 AM
The reason you don't see two bladed swords in reality is because they're impractical. By the nature of physics, every time you'd attemtp to make an attack with your full body weight behind it (as one should always do when fighting), you either have a blade cutting you, or at the least, pointed at you. Both unsafe and unwise. On the other hand, a weapon like a glaive or halberd can be used to fight with both ends much easier and effectiver, which is what people in history have always went with when it comes to combat.

Ryujin
2006-03-03, 07:21 AM
Ooops forgot about that.

Errrm...

Has anyone seen this article before; it's a pretty interesting discussion of medieval Byzantine Armour; the rest of the site is a bust, though:

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/KKK.html

I think it relates to that earlier post about potential historical examples Banded Mail.

I've always felt that Lamellar should've had a place in the 3.5 PH armour lists, instead of in OA, all the moreso with Brigandine, even though it'll probably lead to some duplication equipment statistics-wise. *BTW, do you have any online links to Chinese paper armour or Grecian linen armour?

Fhaolan
2006-03-03, 01:56 PM
I'm a little behind, so catching up:


Hi. I've got a question that I wanted to bring over from the two-Weapon fighting thread. It involves the feasiblity of using the shield-bash in combat. here's my post and Mathew's response. I'm interested in what people think on this one:


Heh. I have actual exerience with this, so I'll comment. There are at least two different 'styles' of shield-bearing (there may be more, but these are the two big ones). One, typified by what people think of as the 'Knightly' shield. This usually involves lots of straps, and is held tight against the arm. You can shield-bash with this, but it's more of a shield-rush, due to the way a human arm moves.

Then, there is the center-punch shield, typified by the Viking round-shield. These shields have a center handle, and you hold the shield out in front of you by this single grip. It can lie flat against your arm, but it doesn't have to. By turning your wrist, you can move the shield from lying against your arm, to your arm being perpindicular to the shield. Fencing bucklers (as opposed to archer's bucklers, commonly called targets or targes) are set up this way, usually. These shields are excellent for sheild-bash techniques, but take a bit more skill to use, especially if you have a full-size Viking round. That's a heavy shield to be tossing about with one hand.

The other advantage of a center-punch versus an arm-strap, is that it's a lot easier to drop a center-punch shield. You just let go. Arm-straps mean you have to use your other hand to release the straps, or have the straps loose enough that they're not really doing any good.

Fhaolan
2006-03-03, 01:56 PM
Chinese paper armour or Grecian linen armour?

Paper armour? I've never heard of that one.

Edmund
2006-03-03, 03:03 PM
Has anyone seen this article before; it's a pretty interesting discussion of medieval Byzantine Armour; the rest of the site is a bust, though:

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/KKK.html

Parts of the site are very useful, at least one part is exaggerated.


My reconstructed klibania have proven to be completely resistant to thrown and thrust spears, to swords and even proof against arrows.(31) By comparison mail is proof against none of these attacks, unless they are light or glancing, and scale armour is little better.
He gives maille far too little credit. It can resist direct hits from swords, and is just fine against arrows and spears. Depending on how fine the weave, it can resist more or less damage.

The primary problem with the klibanion is that, while it is as good as a fluted, pure-steel breastplate, it is far heavier, which is why it was eventually abandoned.

Leperflesh
2006-03-03, 06:27 PM
I dunno if it's worth pointint out or not, but:

It seems to me that shield bashing might be more useful a technique in a melee, as opposed to one-on-one single combat. For that matter, the shield itself might be more important in such a situation.

In single combat, you can watch your opponent's strikes carefully, and parry, avoid, etc. In a battle (it seems to me) you are more likely to be struck at by a combatant behind you, or to your side, or by two or three enemies at once. Further, you might be fighting one opponent, and see an opportunity to strike another who happens to be on your shield side. Crossing over or turning with your weapon-hand might be less convenient than just shifting your wieght and slamming the guy to your shield-side with the shield.

That's all just speculation, though.

-lep

Matthew
2006-03-03, 06:44 PM
The style of battle will influence many tactical considerations. Personal 'Heroic' Combat was initially the favoured type of the Ancient Celts with personal challenges and so on. They weren't ready for the unified command structure of the Roman Army. I take your point, though, individual duels are often very different from battles between organised forces. I would be inclined to say that the shield would be used differently if present on a battlefield, but I would imagine it's importance in melee to be similar (Obviously, one of the main benefits of a shield is its ability to intercept and shield one from missiles, which is not a concern in duels usually, though the cited text suggets that it might have been in this case, as it was in the Iliad i.e. spears are hurled prior to melee)

Darkie
2006-03-03, 07:25 PM
Paper armour? I've never heard of that one.It's very interesting, and had been discussed (well, someone told us in a university lecture style) previously with references and pictures. Essentially, hardened, re-enforced, layered paper. I believe it was said it worked fairly well, although I can't remember if it was better dry or wet...

Crud
2006-03-03, 08:06 PM
I'm a little behind, so catching up:


Heh. I have actual exerience with this, so I'll comment. There are at least two different 'styles' of shield-bearing (there may be more, but these are the two big ones). One, typified by what people think of as the 'Knightly' shield. This usually involves lots of straps, and is held tight against the arm. You can shield-bash with this, but it's more of a shield-rush, due to the way a human arm moves.

Then, there is the center-punch shield, typified by the Viking round-shield. These shields have a center handle, and you hold the shield out in front of you by this single grip. It can lie flat against your arm, but it doesn't have to. By turning your wrist, you can move the shield from lying against your arm, to your arm being perpindicular to the shield. Fencing bucklers (as opposed to archer's bucklers, commonly called targets or targes) are set up this way, usually. These shields are excellent for sheild-bash techniques, but take a bit more skill to use, especially if you have a full-size Viking round. That's a heavy shield to be tossing about with one hand.

The other advantage of a center-punch versus an arm-strap, is that it's a lot easier to drop a center-punch shield. You just let go. Arm-straps mean you have to use your other hand to release the straps, or have the straps loose enough that they're not really doing any good.


Thank you so much Fhaolan that completely answers my question. I guess my problem was simply one of conception, I was thinking of the forearm strap attachment with the Viking shield. Your explaination makes so much sense, as what was described in the quote would then be basically an ablative buckler, excellent for blocking and attacking. i have absolutely no problem envisioning a fist-held shield being used on the offense, which would amount to a punching motion. However, as you said, a forearm shield would use more of an elbowing motion, and would be more like the DD idea of bull-rushing.

Thanks a ton Fhaolan *;D


The style of battle will influence many tactical considerations. Personal 'Heroic' Combat was initially the favoured type of the Ancient Celts with personal challenges and so on. They weren't ready for the unified command structure of the Roman Army. I take your point, though, individual duels are often very different from battles between organised forces. I would be inclined to say that the shield would be used differently if present on a battlefield, but I would imagine it's importance in melee to be similar (Obviously, one of the main benefits of a shield is its ability to intercept and shield one from missiles, which is not a concern in duels usually, though the cited text suggets that it might have been in this case, as it was in the Iliad i.e. spears are hurled prior to melee)

Actually, there's another quote from the same Saga where thrown weapons proved decisive. I remember this one keenly as it's one of my favorite examples of how a shield can become a liability if it becomes weighted down with weapons/arrows that have stuck to it. Something that isn't modeled in D&D's simple AC system.


"Berg-Onund himself rushed into the bushes. He too had a helmet and shield, a sword at his waist and a halberd in his hand. But there was no bear in the thicket, only Egil was waiting there. As soon as he could make out where berg-Onund was, he pulled out his sword: there was a loop attached to the grip and around his hand from which the sword hung. he took his halberd in hand and ran forward to face Berg-Onund, who moved faster than himself as soon as he saw this, holding the shield in front of him. Just before they met, each flung his halberd at the other. Egil let his shield take the halberd, holding it aslant so that a piece was sliced away. Then the halberd fell to the ground. But egil's halberd struck Berg-Onund's shield right in the centre and passed through it some way up the blade so that it stuck firm in the shield. berg-Onund began to find the shield heavy to carry and tried to draw his sword, but before he could pull it halfway out of the scabbard, egil had run him through."

Ibid. P146


Again Mathew's comment about there being standard epic elements in these types of saga's is completely valid. Especially given the tactical similarity of this ambush/duel to the one described earlier. it may be difficult then to differentiate whether this fighting style was used in the 10th century or the 13th(the time of the Saga's recording), or indeed whether it was merely a dramitization created by the author, but I would lean toward one of the first two.

As far as the use of shields in battle goes, I think their use in hoplite phalanx warfare is well enough attested, and mathew's comment about soldiers being warry about getting close enough to 'scrum' is well made. The hoplite shield covered only the left half of the body, the right being covered by the shield of ones neighbor. This exposed the unlucky guy on the right side of the line, leading to a tendancy among Greek hoplite militia formations to drift to the right while advancing, as the right hand guy wouldn't want to leave his flank exposed. In some cases for two lines of hoplite troops to miss eachother at the point of intersection. It needs to be stressed that the cases I'm thinking of involved untrained troops during the warring city-states period in Greece. Because of this the righthand side of a hoplite battle line was often reserved for more disciplined troops. This was also part of the reason why highly disciplined troops like the spartans who could direct their formation's movement in battle using cadences, were so deadly effective. Superior battle-drill and early training to follow orders unquestioningly meant that Spartan units were able to capitalize on such mistakes by untrained units.

Saxon use of the shield wall tactic is also well attested as in the battle of Hastings, although i know less about the actual tactics used in these formations.

Matthew
2006-03-03, 09:37 PM
Yes, the Spear has a long history of being thrown, and possibly thrust, and getting 'caught' in a Shield; I think in Beowulf or the Iliad (I can't remember which)they are actually described as 'Spear Nets' on occasion. Interesting that one of those duels ended with the throw of a Spear, it isn't a very conventional end. I guess that might point towards the episode being more 'historically based' than poetically. Could you point me to your reference material (translation if possible, but also original), as I'd be interested to read them if I ever have the time.
I'm thinking about instituting such rules for D&D...

I agree with Edmund on the Lamellar versus Mail issue, but I don't have any evidence, except to say that I think the author was a little 'armour proud'.

Ryujin, it was my understanding that Splinted Armour was Lamellar, but I suppose I might be wrong. If not, what is Splinted Armour anyone?

Crud
2006-03-03, 09:45 PM
Yes, the Shield has a long history of being thrown, and possibly thrust, and getting 'caught' in a Shield; I think in Beowulf or the Iliad (I can't remember which)they are actually described as 'Spear Nets' on occasion. Interesting that one of those duels ended with the throw of a Spear, it isn't a very conventional end. I guess that might point towards the episode being more 'historically based' than poetically. Could you point me to your reference material (translation if possible, but also original), as I'd be interested to read them if I ever have the time.
I'm thinking about instituting such rules for D&D...

Yup of course. I'm using the penguin version of Egil's Saga, but I just thought to Google it and found an online version at
http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/egil/index.htm
The quotes i used were from
CHAPTER LX. The slaying of Bergonund and Rognvald the king's son.
and
CHAPTER LXVIII. Of Egil's journeyings.

I would absolutely love to hear what you come up with in terms of house rules for this.

Matthew
2006-03-03, 09:47 PM
Thanks, I'll read them. Can't post rules on this thread, maybe I'll start a new one when I've decided how to model them.

Ryujin
2006-03-03, 10:30 PM
Ryujin, it was my understanding that Splinted Armour was Lamellar, but I suppose I might be wrong. If not, what is Splinted Armour anyone?

As far as I can tell, historically, armour of splinted construction, as described in the PH, has been limited to arm & leg defences as used in different periods by Scythians, Vikings, and Japanese, among others. I think that the nomenclature was a mistake on Mr. Gygax's part--the resources that he used for the original game appears to have dated from the first decade of the 20th Century, and doesn't consider finds such as Sutton Hoo & Valsgarde.

Renaming it 'Lamellar' would be the most logical choice, I think. As presented in Oriental Adventures, Lamellar has the same armour bonus as Chain, which just seems wrong.

Matthew
2006-03-03, 10:38 PM
That was also my understanding of Lamellar in the European Medieval period. I have seen an indication that the Assyrians used a Lamellar Breastplate in the Ancient period and that a Lamellar Hauberk may have been in use in Tibet, but I couldn't vouch for it unconditionally.
Is the Lamellar in Oriental Adventures conceived of as being composed metal or some other material? I'm thinking of starting an Armour Equivalencies thread.

Fhaolan
2006-03-04, 04:44 AM
Ryujin, it was my understanding that Splinted Armour was Lamellar, but I suppose I might be wrong. If not, what is Splinted Armour anyone?

I don't know about full suits of splint armor, but the Vangarian Guard (basically Norse mercenaries in South Europe) used splint arm and leg guards. For the armguards, the splints ran down the forearm. They were parallel, but did not overlap, and were held together with leather strapping. The leg guards were basically the same thing for the calves, and the splints extended upwards to protect the knees to some extent. Not quite lamelar, as lamelar has overlap to my understanding.

Darkie
2006-03-04, 05:22 AM
You know what I'd like confirmation on?

The studded armor pictured in the PHB doesn't exist, does it?

To have the rigid Leather Armor go up to soft studded with the studs placed like that is silly.

The old 2e A&E described it as the studs being so close together that they're pretty much a coat of mail - in otherwords, I believe Studded Leather = Brigandine of some sort, yes? Not a biker's jacket...

Matthew
2006-03-04, 11:35 AM
I always imagined Studded Leather as a kind of 'Improved' Padded Armour, which was AC 8 (2) in 2.0; sadly it no longer enjoys such status, having been reduced to AC 1 (9), if you see what I mean. I thought this did a good job of modelling the importance of padding under any body armour.
I can't say I've ever seen a picture of a suit of Studded Leather; it's not very likely to survive, but perhaps there are drawings of it. An attempt to improve the basic body armour of some of the poorest soldiers seems quite plausible, but I expect there were variations in how close and how large any studs might be on an individual suit, just as there were variations in the way mail was produced.

Ryujin
2006-03-04, 12:17 PM
You know what I'd like confirmation on?

The studded armor pictured in the PHB doesn't exist, does it?

To have the rigid Leather Armor go up to soft studded with the studs placed like that is silly.

The old 2e A&E described it as the studs being so close together that they're pretty much a coat of mail - in otherwords, I believe Studded Leather = Brigandine of some sort, yes? Not a biker's jacket...

The revised 2nd Ed. PH actually has Brigandine & Studded Leather on its lists, Brigandine being 1 step better than Studded Leather. *One can say, from the descriptions in 2nd Ed., that brigandine is a later, superior version of studded leather in that the metal plates are more closely spaced together (slightly overlapping). *Since I chanced upon it last night on cable, I'd say that the armour worn by Mel Gibson & his followers in Braveheart are a decent example of studded leather. *A later, real-life example are Chinese military officials' armours from the 18th Century AD. *These so-called 'brigandines' were replete with studs, but actually lacked any internal plates.


I don't know about full suits of splint armor, but the Vangarian Guard (basically Norse mercenaries in South Europe) used splint arm and leg guards. For the armguards, the splints ran down the forearm. They were parallel, but did not overlap, and were held together with leather strapping. The leg guards were basically the same thing for the calves, and the splints extended upwards to protect the knees to some extent. Not quite lamelar, as lamelar has overlap to my understanding.

The Varangian Guards definitely wore splinted limb protection--there's a very nice illustration of this in one of the books published by Osprey. *The Byzantine Emperor permitted them to select their equipment from the Imperial armouries, IIRC, which may partly be the reason why the occasional suit of lamellar armour has been found in Viking graves in Sweden.


That was also my understanding of Lamellar in the European Medieval period. I have seen an indication that the Assyrians used a Lamellar Breastplate in the Ancient period and that a Lamellar Hauberk may have been in use in Tibet, but I couldn't vouch for it unconditionally.
Is the Lamellar in Oriental Adventures conceived of as being composed metal or some other material? I'm thinking of starting an Armour Equivalencies thread.

Lamellar armour was undisputably worn in Tibet--there's one on display at either the Tower Armouries or the Victoria & Albert Museum. *Archaeological evidence strongly suggests that the Assyrians were responsible for developing & spreading this form of armour--the reliefs at Nineveh & Nimrud show hundreds of soldiers wearing lamellar. *I'd suggest getting a copy of H. Russell Robinson's 'Oriental Armour.' *It's somewhat old, but it's an excellent overview of armour used in lands from Turkey to Japan. *http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0486418189/sr=8-1/qid=1141488665/ref=pd_bbs_1/104-2417396-3066355?%5Fencoding=UTF8

I'll IM the stats from OA to you.

Fhaolan
2006-03-04, 01:28 PM
You know what I'd like confirmation on?

The studded armor pictured in the PHB doesn't exist, does it?

To have the rigid Leather Armor go up to soft studded with the studs placed like that is silly.

The old 2e A&E described it as the studs being so close together that they're pretty much a coat of mail - in otherwords, I believe Studded Leather = Brigandine of some sort, yes? Not a biker's jacket...

I've only seen studded-style armor once in a museum, and I can't for the life of me remember which one. It wasn't leather, though. It was some kind of duck-cloth and the studs were so close together it looks like a mutant form of scale. It may have been a reproduction, though.

Mike_G
2006-03-04, 02:54 PM
Does anyone have a photo or a good, workable description of a repeating crossbow? I don't grasp exactly how they work by the crappy D&D sketches.

Has anyone seen one with their actual eyes? How effective is the gravity feed? Why don't the bolts get out of alignment and jam or why don't the fletchings screw the whole thing up? How do you **** it without removing the magazine?

I know that the thing existed, but how extensively were they used? Is it a viable battlefield weapon or a curiosity?

Matthew
2006-03-04, 02:58 PM
Try these links:

http://www.arco-iris.com/George/chu-ko-nu.htm

http://www.atarn.org/chinese/rept_xbow.htm

http://www.atarn.org/chinese/yn_xbow/zhugehtm.htm

Mike_G
2006-03-04, 03:42 PM
Thanks.

The article and sketches answer a lot of my questions.

medinabard
2006-03-04, 09:58 PM
what would be the stats for hat surrounded by a large circular blade

Thiel
2006-03-04, 11:06 PM
We are not allowed to discuss gamerules in this thread.
I dont think a single band of metal around the head would be very effective. You would need somekind of protection on top of your head. This could be a metal cross or somesuch.
An btw why a blade? It would be almost impossible to use in combat.

Edmund
2006-03-04, 11:48 PM
Since I chanced upon it last night on cable, I'd say that the armour worn by Mel Gibson & his followers in Braveheart are a decent example of studded leather. Actually, those were brigandines, apparently, with visible rivets. Studs that tightly packed would be counterproductive, however. They would provide relatively little protection, and would be extremely heavy About 2/3 down the page (http://www.bytheswordinc.com/acatalog/Body_Armour.html)


The Varangian Guards definitely wore splinted limb protection--there's a very nice illustration of this in one of the books published by Osprey. The Byzantine Emperor permitted them to select their equipment from the Imperial armouries, IIRC, which may partly be the reason why the occasional suit of lamellar armour has been found in Viking graves in Sweden. The (only) lamellar found in Scandinavia at that time period was not of the Byzantine type. See here: http://www.vikingsna.org/translations/birkaarmour/

It is far more likely, in my opinion, that the lamellar came through relations with the Rus, who had intimate contact with the steppe peoples.

The difference of lamellar is that it requires no backing, but instead the individual plates are attached to one another (through lacing and/or rivetting). The splint armour described has a leather backing, bands though the backing may be. Similarly, scale armour has a cloth backing. That is not to say that there never is a cloth backing on lamellar, but that it *requires* none.

A good book on the subject of lamellar and coat-of-plate type armours in general is A Companion to Medieval Arms and Armor (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0851158722/)

On the Varangian Splint Armour: It was not at all full body, and was reserved for the parts of the body that are least likely to be stabbed, taking the form of greaves and vambraces. Here's a reproduction pair by Russel Thomas (http://living-history.no/ag1.html)

coredump
2006-03-05, 02:51 AM
Shield bashing

From what I know, shield bashing is no where near as 'useful' as some make it out to be.

The shield is designed to be, a shield; not a weapon. Even the 'center grip' shields mentioned, are not very good weapons.

Any time you decide to 'attack' with the shield, you are removing much of your defensive capability. That is a very dangerous move.

And you just don't do that much damage. Normally, it would be a distraction, not actual damage. A typical shield bash would be more like a fient rather than an attack.
Or possibly a Bull Rush maneuver.

Matthew
2006-03-05, 03:47 AM
Could you point me in the direction of your sources?

Ryujin
2006-03-05, 04:22 AM
Actually, those were brigandines, apparently, with visible rivets. Studs that tightly packed would be counterproductive, however. They would provide relatively little protection, and would be extremely heavy About 2/3 down the page (http://www.bytheswordinc.com/acatalog/Body_Armour.html)

I was basing my opinion on brigandine used during later periods, such as this 16th-Century example which was turned inside-out. As you can see, the plates were very close-set, unlike the ones worn in Braveheart:

http://img80.imageshack.us/img80/5494/brigandineio6tb.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

One can always presume that there were a lot of advances in the field of armour manufacture during the intervening centuries...


On the Varangian Splint Armour: It was not at all full body, and was reserved for the parts of the body that are least likely to be stabbed, taking the form of greaves and vambraces. Here's a reproduction pair by Russel Thomas (http://living-history.no/ag1.html)

As I said before; for protection of the limbs only.

http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/6525/varangian9lp.th.jpg (http://img228.imageshack.us/my.php?image=varangian9lp.jpg)

Belkarseviltwin
2006-03-05, 06:57 AM
We are not allowed to discuss gamerules in this thread.
I dont think a single band of metal around the head would be very effective. You would need somekind of protection on top of your head. This could be a metal cross or somesuch.
An btw why a blade? It would be almost impossible to use in combat.

He doesn't mean armour. He means Oddjob's hat from Goldfinger- a bowler hat with a chakram hidden in the brim, designed to be thrown.

Matthew
2006-03-05, 07:03 AM
Hah, hah; I didn't get that either. I guess you could always compare it to an Indian Chakram, but I don't know how the 'hat part' would affect the performance of the Throwing Disk.

Thiel
2006-03-05, 08:45 AM
Well I think that the hat would make the disk wobble and therefor make it more inaccurate and less powerfull than a normal Chakram.

Edmund
2006-03-05, 07:09 PM
Shield bashing

From what I know, shield bashing is no where near as 'useful' as some make it out to be.

The shield is designed to be, a shield; not a weapon. Even the 'center grip' shields mentioned, are not very good weapons.

Any time you decide to 'attack' with the shield, you are removing much of your defensive capability. That is a very dangerous move.

And you just don't do that much damage. Normally, it would be a distraction, not actual damage. A typical shield bash would be more like a fient rather than an attack.
Or possibly a Bull Rush maneuver.

Shield bashing (with bucklers, at least) is a fairly common technique and (with any shield) is very painful, especially when one is hit with the edge (which is a probable occurence).

Now, it certainly wouldn't be used to kill an opponent, but it would quite possibly break their jaw or nose.

You may lose any defencive benefit the shield grants you, but you may not have any need of it at the moment of attack (you are too close to your opponent for a successful sword strike, or your opponent's sword is bound with your own)

What happens much more often, however, is that the shield is used offensively in what is called a 'bind' or a 'shield-knock' where the enemy's sword, shield, or both are pinned in one location or controlled by the opponent's shield.

This type of 'shield-bash' does not, in fact, remove the defencive capabilities if done correctly. This is quite simply because it is used to nullify the offensive capabilities of the opponent. And that is good defence.

I have seen no evidence of 'feinting' with a shield, most probably because an experienced opponent will not respond to it as intended.

With larger shields (heaters, almond-shaped and large rounds), fighters behave somewhat differently. There is less shield-knocking because the opponent's shield is harder to control, and much more painful if you get struck in the face with it (which is possible if you lose control of their weapon).

Larger shields are also used less for binding because of their size. You may obscure your opponent's line of attack, but you may also prevent yourself from attacking, which gets you nowhere (which is why I hate Roman shields).

Large shields, however, are used for 'shield rushing' which, if timed correctly, will basically disable an opponent and allow you to draw-slice, stab, or cut at the legs (generally unprotected)

Another technique that could be used with the larger shields is a strike at the knees on an opponent's forward pass.

As mentioned before, striking with the edge could also be employed. If an opponent strikes a lateral blow, the combatant could pass forward during the swing, deflecting the blow at the hilt with the face of the shield, and slamming the edge into the head of the opponent, doing all sorts of ugly damage to them.

Shield strikes are very useful and, as John Clements puts it, 'clearly fundamental aspects of fighting with a sword & shield'. They are dangerous for their user if done without care, but the case is the same with sword strikes...

So, that's my take... Probably a bit repetitive.

medinabard
2006-03-05, 07:50 PM
He doesn't mean armour. He means Oddjob's hat from Goldfinger- a bowler hat with a chakram hidden in the brim, designed to be thrown.
exactly btw where could i go to ask the stats?

Ryujin
2006-03-05, 10:49 PM
Actually, those were brigandines, apparently, with visible rivets. Studs that tightly packed would be counterproductive, however. They would provide relatively little protection, and would be extremely heavy

I just remembered--Kevin Costner's outfit in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves looks like a good movie example of studded leather.

Darkie
2006-03-05, 10:55 PM
Hm, doesn't look like much for protection... more like just having a lot of layers of thick leather...

...that is, the studs don't seem to be useful other than for holding the leather together.

Crud
2006-03-05, 11:16 PM
Shield bashing (with bucklers, at least) is a fairly common technique and (with any shield) is very painful, especially when one is hit with the edge (which is a probable occurence).

Now, it certainly wouldn't be used to kill an opponent, but it would quite possibly break their jaw or nose.

What happens much more often, however, is that the shield is used offensively in what is called a 'bind' or a 'shield-knock' where the enemy's sword, shield, or both are pinned in one location or controlled by the opponent's shield.

I have seen no evidence of 'feinting' with a shield, most probably because an experienced opponent will not respond to it as intended.

Larger shields are also used less for binding because of their size. You may obscure your opponent's line of attack, but you may also prevent yourself from attacking, which gets you nowhere (which is why I hate Roman shields).

Large shields, however, are used for 'shield rushing' which, if timed correctly, will basically disable an opponent and allow you to draw-slice, stab, or cut at the legs (generally unprotected)

As mentioned before, striking with the edge could also be employed. If an opponent strikes a lateral blow, the combatant could pass forward during the swing, deflecting the blow at the hilt with the face of the shield, and slamming the edge into the head of the opponent, doing all sorts of ugly damage to them.

Shield strikes are very useful and, as John Clements puts it, 'clearly fundamental aspects of fighting with a sword & shield'. They are dangerous for their user if done without care, but the case is the same with sword strikes...

So, that's my take... Probably a bit repetitive.


That was awesome. You seem to know quite a bit about the tactical use of shields. Could you please post any weblinks to relevant sites, or list bibliographical info on any books that pertain to the subject. Thanks a lot. *:)

Edit: You mention that you don't like the Roman shield design because it does not allow for 'binding'. would this have been a major tactical difference between the use of large round shields and the Roman legionary shield? I know there would have been some pretty major variations, I'm specifically wondering about this one. Also could you possibly shed some light on the offensive usefulness of shields in large formation fighting. There were some pretty stunning displays of shield-work in HBO's Rome, which I gather was well researched, though the politico-historical aspects were butchered somewhat to suit the demands of storytelling. What I'm specifically wondering is whether offensive moves that would, as you said, tend to open up ones defenses be used as a regular tactic in shield-wall or phalanx warfare, or would it be simply a wall of shields with weapons flashing over and under... etc?

Ambrogino
2006-03-06, 05:00 AM
Does anyone have any knowledge of Celtic weapons? Specifically I've seen in a few fiction sources, most notably the comic Slaine, mention of a spear designed to be gripped between the toes and thrown from the floor. I can't quite concieve of this actually working in the real world - wouldn't the back of the spear hit the ground as you pull it up, unless you only threw (kicked?) it at ankle level? What would be the advantage over just picking it up and throwing it normally?

Or is it that there's one example in a particular fable of one person throwing by foot when, say, injured to the arms and it's gotten incorrectly identified as a normal fighting technique?

Ryujin
2006-03-06, 05:39 AM
Hm, doesn't look like much for protection... more like just having a lot of layers of thick leather...

...that is, the studs don't seem to be useful other than for holding the leather together.

Just like Hank the Ranger in the old Dungeons & Dragons cartoon!

Thomas
2006-03-06, 07:12 AM
Does anyone have any knowledge of Celtic weapons? *Specifically I've seen in a few fiction sources, most notably the comic Slaine, mention of a spear designed to be gripped between the toes and thrown from the floor. *I can't quite concieve of this actually working in the real world - wouldn't the back of the spear hit the ground as you pull it up, unless you only threw (kicked?) it at ankle level? *What would be the advantage over just picking it up and throwing it normally?

Or is it that there's one example in a particular fable of one person throwing by foot when, say, injured to the arms and it's gotten incorrectly identified as a normal fighting technique?

You refer to Gae Bolg, I think? (It's been a while since I read Slaine.)

The character of Slaine is based mostly on Cuchulainn, a hero from the Ulster Cycle. Gae Bolg was Cuchulainn's spear; depending on the source, it either had barbs (or blossomed into barbs when it entered an opponent), or seven heads, and or was thrown with the foot. Quite simply, the weapon is about as likely to be real as it is likely that Cuchulainn's body really twisted and swelled and exuded black mist during his berserk rages (that is to say, it's pure fantasy).

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-06, 07:24 AM
Does anyone have any knowledge of Celtic weapons? Specifically I've seen in a few fiction sources, most notably the comic Slaine, mention of a spear designed to be gripped between the toes and thrown from the floor.


About the celts, I know that their swords are made quite thin and light (hold an original flat, and you'll see a significant bend towards the ground). These blades are fast, and seem to be generally best suited for cutting into flesh and light armor. This again seems to be in line with the fact that most concrete evidence points to celts mostly being armoured with padded clothing. Al in all, I like the designs for their swords, since they're quite different from later periods because of the focus on un - light armoured fighting.

And I like the Slaine comics too
;D

Thomas
2006-03-06, 09:38 AM
Actually, to elaborate:

Celtic sources, like the Ulster Cycle, tend to be mythological or at least legendary, on par with stories of King Arthur. There may be historical truth behind them, but the details are pure fantasy. Cuchulainn's rages, Gae Bolg, the shield Ocean (that would moan loud enough to be heard all across Ireland when it's wearer was in danger), Naisi mac Usna blinding a spy with a thrown chess-piece, the unlikely fight between the sons of Usna and King Conor outside the house of the Red Branch... they're all stories and fantasy, from broadly the same sources, not historical record (even to the degree that Icelandic sagas may be).

So I doubt there ever was an incident of a warrior wounded in the arm throwing a spear with a foot (an obviously impossible feat, made even more unlikely in a circumstance where someone tries it for the first time because they are unable to fight with their arms).

Mind you, the specific method of throwing the Gae Bolg that I've read of involved lifting it over your head from behind your back, and flinging it thus with the foot. Clearly fantasy.

Another similar legend is Del Chliss (spellings vary); this was, again, either a specific magical spear, or a secret way of throwing a spear. In either case, the magic or secret was to make the spear twist or turn in the air when it was thrown, striking with more power. (I think this spear may also have been associated with Cuchulainn, though I'm not certain.)

Fhaolan
2006-03-06, 11:44 AM
Does anyone have any knowledge of Celtic weapons? *Specifically I've seen in a few fiction sources, most notably the comic Slaine, mention of a spear designed to be gripped between the toes and thrown from the floor. *I can't quite concieve of this actually working in the real world - wouldn't the back of the spear hit the ground as you pull it up, unless you only threw (kicked?) it at ankle level? *What would be the advantage over just picking it up and throwing it normally?

Or is it that there's one example in a particular fable of one person throwing by foot when, say, injured to the arms and it's gotten incorrectly identified as a normal fighting technique?

Ah, the Gae Bolg, the hacki-sack spear. What a wonderfully silly thing it is. Slaine is re-telling of the myths of Chuchulain, as mentioned before. This is also the same character as Gawain, one of the knights of King Arthur's court. Those myths are full of absolutely fabulous nonsense, such as the 'salmon leap' maneuver and the Gae Bolg spear. I am under the impression that Chuchulain is one of the source stories used for the Incredible Hulk as well (going into beserker rages that increases his physical size four or five times, changing colour (although I believe Chuchulain turned red instead of green), etc.)

Now, the oldest version of that myth I've read, the spear was thrown by the foot, but not from the ground. Chuchulain had to be standing in a river, and the spear was put into the river somewhere upstream by his charioteer. The spear then floated down river, where Chuchulain picked it out of the water by his foot, and threw it over his own shoulder. I'm envisioning a soccer-kick like maneuver. Yes, incredibly silly. And if you think that's a historically-accurate story, you watch too many cartoons. The Celts were used to insane concepts in their myths. Afterall, they came up with the original 'geas' concept, where everybody important was fated in some way, and couldn't die unless very specific criterea were fulfilled. Which led to situations like some hero couldn't die, unless he was stepping out of a bath onto the back of a sheep while carrying his horse, which had been painted blue all the while singing a dirge to the mother of his best-friend's cousin. Which would somehow contrive to actually happen in the myth-story.

In reality, the Celts did use very viscious-looking spears. It was noted by Roman historians and emperors during the Gaulish and British conquests that the Gaulish barbarians used spined and twisted spears. Archeologists have recovered many Celtic spear heads, several of them with kris-style blades, and some being 'barbed' like the classic arrow-head shape. The Celts were very artistic as well as technically apt with their metal-work, and were supposedly responsible for introducing iron-working to the bronze-age Greeks and Romans (before being conquored by same). Roman helms and the spatha cavalry swords were based off of Celtic designs. I believe because Celtic mercenaries kickstarted the Roman cavalry. I could be wrong on that though.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-06, 12:41 PM
Which led to situations like some hero couldn't die, unless he was stepping out of a bath onto the back of a sheep while carrying his horse, which had been painted blue all the while singing a dirge to the mother of his best-friend's cousin.

*Drops to the floor laughing*

Oh god, the mental image! That baby made my day! ;D

Matthew
2006-03-06, 03:00 PM
As said above, it's extremely unlikely that a Spear could be thrown with your foot.

Roman Cavalry; it's my understanding that there was a Roman Cavalry early on in the Republic, made up of the richest category of citizens, the Equites (sometimes translated 'Knights', but that's a fairly misleading, and sometimes controversial, term to use).
As a military unit this group was largely replaced by mercenaries, allies and, eventually, auxillaries drawn from wherever they were available. The 'Celts' (it's probably misleading to refer to them as a unified people here, as Romanised Celts were more likely to be used) were a favourite source of cavalry for Caesar, as they were easily available to him. During the Imperial period recruits for the army, in general, were increasingly drawn from outside Italy.
It might be misleading to say that the Roman Spatha was based on Celtic models. The development of the sword during this period is quite unclear and no doubt complicated. I would appreciate it if you could point to your source, though, as I am interested in the possibility. Similarly, I have heard mail was likely introduced to the Romans from the Celts, but I hadn't heard that the helmet was.

Fhaolan
2006-03-06, 03:33 PM
As said above, it's extremely unlikely that a Spear could be thrown with your foot.

Roman Cavalry; it's my understanding that there was a Roman Cavalry early on in the Republic, made up of the richest category of citizens, the Equites (sometimes translated 'Knights', but that's a fairly misleading, and sometimes controversial, term to use).
As a military unit this group was largely replaced by mercenaries, allies and, eventually, auxillaries drawn from wherever they were available. The 'Celts' (it's probably misleading to refer to them as a unified people here, as Romanised Celts were more likely to be used) were a favourite source of cavalry for Caesar, as they were easily available to him. During the Imperial period recruits for the army, in general, were increasingly drawn from outside Italy.
It might be misleading to say that the Roman Spatha was based on Celtic models. The development of the sword during this period is quite unclear and no doubt complicated. I would appreciate it if you could point to your source, though, as I am interested in the possibility. Similarly, I have heard mail was likely introduced to the Romans from the Celts, but I hadn't heard that the helmet was.

I'll have to see if I can dig up my references. I believe it was with Oakeshott that I first read about the spatha derivation. I believe the analysis was based on the swords recovered from LaTene, which produced spatha-style swords that were much earlier in manufacture than any found in identifiable Roman digs. I believe there were a lot of 'possibly' and 'perhaps' sprinkled through the text, though. :)

About the helms, I think I may have generalized more than I should have. In the Roman helms I've seen, there is a definate style division between early and later period helms. The early ones I've seen were the Greco-Roman bronze style. The later ones (late first century), were mostly iron and in the Gallic and Italic styles. Apparantly the Gallic style were first produced by Romanized Celts for their own use based on their own Coolus helms. The Italic style being a later development. I don't really have references for that, because it's based on personal observation of helms displayed in museums and the dates the museums associated with those helms. But I see if I can find any supporting references. :)

Delcan
2006-03-06, 07:24 PM
The first time I ever heard reference to a ___-pound pull for bows was in "The Dragon and the George", where the main character refers to having once tried out a forty-pound-pull bow, and found a sixty-pound pull too much for him... Immediately afterwards, he expresses amazement at an archer character with a bow that he figures has to be at least a 100-pound, 150, or more. I imagine this is at least partially grounded in fact - the degree of force involved, I mean.

How does the pull weight really affect the arrow's flight/force/etc. and the handling of the bow? What is an average pull weight? What is the largest pull weight ever documented? And lastly, how do compound bows treat the whole issue?

Edmund
2006-03-06, 07:31 PM
Could you please post any weblinks to relevant sites, or list bibliographical info on any books that pertain to the subject. Thanks a lot. :)

Sure. Medieval Sword and Shield (http://www.chivalrybookshelf.com/titles/swordandshield/swordandshield.htm) by Paul Wagner and Stephen Hand is a very good one. It's basically a more understandable version of the I:33 manuscript, the earliest known medieval fencing book.

Another book with Stephen's involvement is Spada II: An Anthology of Swordsmanship (http://www.chivalrybookshelf.com/titles/SPADA2/SPADA2.html) It's a collection of articles, but one of the more pertinent ones is Steven's 'Further Thoughts on the Mechanics of Combat with Large Shields'.

The last really comprehensive one I can think of is John Clements' Medieval Swordsmanship (http://www.thearma.org/medsword.htm)

Talhoffer and other 15th century masters tend to focus on the longsword, but have some additional buckler stuff mixed in.

I don't really use the web as a source, but the ARMA website has some good articles on sword and buckler use.


You mention that you don't like the Roman shield design because it does not allow for 'binding'. would this have been a major tactical difference between the use of large round shields and the Roman legionary shield? I know there would have been some pretty major variations, I'm specifically wondering about this one. First, I must clarify something. To my ear it sounds as if you are thinking 'The tactics change to suit the shield'. But instead, it is the shield that changes to suit the tactics. Specifically, the extensive use of cavalry called for adoption of differently shaped, lighter shields.

Cavalry combat is very different from foot combat, and both are very different than duelling.
The biggest change between Medieval and Roman (or for that matter Saxon) combat is the increase in movement caused by heavy use of cavalry. While the Roman age could be dubbed the Age of the Footsoldier, the 11th-15th century could be called the Age of the Horse. The proliferation of firearms and densely packed pike formations caused a shift back towards the infantryman, but in the 20th century the focus seems to have begun to shift again thanks to the presence of tanks and attack aircraft.

In duelling, there are generally only two combatants, and no option of flight. In open warfare, there are many, many combatants, which makes the phalanx style far more viable, especially when armed with spears.

The Vikings' round shield was due to their style of invasion: Quick, profitable raids that caught the enemy offguard and relied on quick movement.

The offensive use of shields outside of breaking up pike formations in large scale combat is limited, mostly because in such situations shield users are relegated to a horseman-type arrangement or a phalanx-type arrangement. On horseback shield-bashing is neither easy nor exceedingly useful. In a phalanx it is exceedingly detrimental. The Medieval phalanxes, however, were exceedingly rare, and were generally manned by untrained peasants. The vast majority of Western Medieval combat until the 14th century took place between horsemen. Even with the rise of militias and the independent Swiss in that period, combat remained relatively cavalry oriented.

It is worth noting, however, that a phalanx's worst foe is a sword-and-shield combatant. The shield is very good at disabling spears.

As a side mini-rant, the Swiss are terribly overrated, as are their halberds. They won independence purely by luck of having half-witted enemies who walked into carefully prepared slaughter zones, not because of their own martial skill or through that of their weapons. They also had the advantage of mountainous terrain.

Moving on:


Also could you possibly shed some light on the offensive usefulness of shields in large formation fighting. There were some pretty stunning displays of shield-work in HBO's Rome, which I gather was well researched, though the politico-historical aspects were butchered somewhat to suit the demands of storytelling. What I'm specifically wondering is whether offensive moves that would, as you said, tend to open up ones defenses be used as a regular tactic in shield-wall or phalanx warfare, or would it be simply a wall of shields with weapons flashing over and under... etc?
I can really only tell you that the offensive use of shields by legionnaries is minimal. They would use the shields as a mobile pavise, essentially, which was the Western martial tradition of the time. This is, to my understanding, the reason for the long necks on the pilum.

Since you would not really move the shield, you could not deflect it, so it would go through the shield and into you, or it would bend, which disables it. They used this against Hoplites, thereby opening their formation and making it useless.

I've probably made a few errors up there, but that's a lot of writing. Phew!

Edit: Oh! I should mention that I myself am not quite clear on the progression of a 'typical' medieval battle, nor on the dynamics of foot soldier combat. What I gave is only my impression, though what I said about the presence of cavalry being more extensive than that of infantry is true from the 11th to the 15th century with a few exceptions. It is altogether probable that there was a period of phalanx-style combat that degraded into close-quarters melee, but I have no idea.

Fhaolan
2006-03-06, 08:14 PM
The first time I ever heard reference to a ___-pound pull for bows was in "The Dragon and the George", where the main character refers to having once tried out a forty-pound-pull bow, and found a sixty-pound pull too much for him... *Immediately afterwards, he expresses amazement at an archer character with a bow that he figures has to be at least a 100-pound, 150, or more. *I imagine this is at least partially grounded in fact - the degree of force involved, I mean.

How does the pull weight really affect the arrow's flight/force/etc. and the handling of the bow? *What is an average pull weight? *What is the largest pull weight ever documented? *And lastly, how do compound bows treat the whole issue?

Oooo. Archery's always fun.

Modern children's bows are usually about 10-20 lb pull.

I've heard that the average 'reasonably experienced' adult bow is currently about 40-45 lb pull.

I pull around 55 lb bare fingered with my longbow, although I do have an 80 lb seige bow that I bring out for special occasions, but only with gloves on. Otherwise, it tears my fingers up right fast. With the 55lb bow I can impale a corn cob. (I used to live next to a corn field and accidentally hit one once. :) ) The arrow was stuck with the corn cob at about the half-way mark on the shaft. The 80lb bow allowed me to do the same thing with a modern pine 2x4. The arrow was ruined, of course.

My wife has a mongolian horse-bow that pulls about 45 lb. That would be considered a shortbow in D&D terms, and pulling shortbows has a considerably different feel to it than longbows, and uses different weight arrows, so it's hard to compare.

Virtually no bows have survived from Medieval Europe, except those from the wreck of the Mary Rose (sank in 1545). Those are estimated as to having pulls ranging from 110 to 180 lbs. They couldn't actually pull them because the long emmersion in water had made them unusuable. They did however replicate the bows as best they could with the proper materials by expert bowyers and accurate measurements. They do have evidence of seige bows having imbedded iron arrowheads three inches deep into heavy oak doors. This is far beyond what I can do with my 80lb-er, so I have to assume that was a 125-150 lb bow.

I honestly don't know what the max pull ever was, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was something over 200 lbs, but probably not by much. 250 on the outside would be my opinion, but I could be wrong.

How does it affect the flight of the arrow? Once the arrow is stabilized, it drops consistent with the rules of physics. Meaning the faster the arrow is travelling, the farther it will go as the arrow drops downwards at a reasonably constant rate. However, some interesting things happen when you first release the arrow, known as the 'archer's paradox'. At first, the arrow does not travel straight forward. The arrow bends under the force of the push from the string, around the stave of the bow. This causes the arrow to actually wobble off to the side somewhat as if it is following an invisible sine wave. As the arrow travels, the wave damps down and eventually it is travelling straight. The more powerful the bow, the thicker (and therefore stiffer, and heavier) the arrow can be, and needs to be, in order to damp this wobble faster. Too light of an arrow and it might shatter right on the bow, or fly off into never-never land because the wobble was far too great for it to correct. Because you have to use a heavier arrow, the maximum range doesn't scale perfectly with the poundage of bow. And heavier arrows hit harder, even if they don't travel faster, thanks to physics. :) Arrows that taper forward and back tend to fly farther that straight arrows, because you can get a lighter arrow with the same 'bendiness' as a heavy arrow with that trick. However, it's still lighter so it doesn't hit as hard, it just goes farther.

This also means that strong bows have a minimum useful range. Anything below that range is very difficult to hit accurately because the arrow is still wobbling. Also, an arrow lifts somewhat off the bow, and the more powerful the bow, the more it lifts. Meaning that at short range, with a strong bow, it's possible for the arrow to still be in the 'lift' phase of the trajectory when it hits the target. That's one of the things Brian (In the D&G book) was talking about. It takes an expert to be able to see that. I can't, I'm not an expert and my eye isn't fast enough.

Compound bows (not composite bows, which are different), avoid a lot of these problems because they use aluminum and carbon fiber arrows rather than the wooden arrows that regular bows use. That allows you to use a stiffer arrow that is still light.

There's a lot more to this, and a *lot* of physics. But this is a starting point. I have simplified things enough that technically some of it is wrong, but easier to understand. :)

Edmund
2006-03-06, 08:25 PM
They do have evidence of seige bows having imbedded iron arrowheads three inches deep into heavy oak doors. Actually, it seems that this was just propaganda spread by the English to make their longbow seem all the more terrifying.

180 is the heaviest draw weight I've ever heard of, though. And that's a lot of pull.

Delcan
2006-03-07, 12:19 AM
Phew. And I thought 150 pounds was an exaggeration.

Here's a simpler question, also from a book... do triangular blades really create wounds that don't heal? Well, don't heal as WELL, anyway. (This one's actually from Slaughterhouse Five by K. Vonnegut.)

Matthew
2006-03-07, 02:29 AM
Edmund.
Nice post. I just want ot pick you up on a couple of things; I think they're probably debatable though.

The indication that most medieval combat in the 11th to 15th century was conducted between horseman is, as far as I know, no longer considered to be the case. It may be true beyond the thirteenth century, but I don't know. In europe 11th-13th centuries the majority of warfare consisted of raids and sieges. Raiders would make good use of the horse, but were unlikely to risk battle. At a siege, being mounted was not particulalry useful, so knights probably had a lot of occasions to fight on foot; certainly they did so on crusade (when horses were sparce) and sometimes they would dismount for a pitched battle to 'stiffen' the line.
Most medieval battle reports and literary depictions place heavy emphasis on the mounted combatant, but this is because of their status; the majority of the combatants in the 'average' battle (battles themselves being exceedingly rare) would be infantry, making use of Shield Bearer / Archer / Spear (or Polearm) combinations.
Crusade sources are clear that medieval armies were 'combined arms' forces. See:

Gesta Francorum et Aliorum Hierosolimitanorum, Odo of Deuil's De profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem, De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi, Ambroise's Estoire de la Guerre Sainte, Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, Villehardouin's Conquest of Constantinople and Joinville's Life of Saint Louis. amongst other things, these texts describe combined arms forces during the period 1100-1300 and describe their methods of warfare.

All these sources relate specifically to crusades, so one has to be careful when handling them, but they do not indicate that there was anything too unusual about the methods of warfare being used (i.e. no real indication they changed their battlefield tactics for crusade, though their situation was different)
For secondary sources concerning this period I would point towards R.C.Smail (Crusading Warfare) and J. Gillingham (more general analysis, several important articles can be found at http://www.deremilitari.org/).
The 'age of the horse' is often a misnomer, but cavalry were of increased (and increasing) importance during this period. The age of the horse was once said to have begun with the battle of Adrainople and te inroduction of the Stirrup, but that has long since been proven erroneous. Some modern historians still follow C. Oman in his assertion that infantry were largely irrelevant during this period, but they are a very small minority now.
Infantry / Cavalry dynamics are very difficult to talk about with any certainty and very subjective before 1300 at least.

The idea that the Roman Soldier only used his Shield as a pavise is, as far as I know, wrong. Vegetius indicates that they could do so and did when standing otherwise inactive (note they 'settle down' behind them, suggesting sitting http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/archive/arma/contents/text/technica/veg1.htm). It must always be borne in mind he is writing much later than the practices he discusses, though. A Pavise (as far as I can tell) was designed exclusively for use as a mobile pallisade, the Scutum was not.
As far as I know, the Pilum had a long (and softened) neck so that it would bend after impact and could not be thrown back or easily removed. It was thus useful for pinning one shield to another in enemy shield walls (as Caesar describes in his Galic War).
HBO's Rome was mainly well researched for 'authenticity', if not accuracy, and using the shield as an offensive weapon is in line with the view of many modern historians of ancient warfare (I'm going to have a look around for links to them on the web in a minute and I'll post them up here; I'm afraid Roman history hasn't been my subject area for some years, so I don't have the sources to hand.)

From Vegetius' De Re Militari Book III (Not 'Bashing', but some sort of offensive training with Shields)

"Let them be accustomed to march through thickets, inclosures and broken grounds, to fell trees and cut out timber, to break ground and to defend a post against their comrades who are to endeavor to dispossess them; and in the encounter each party should use their shields to dislodge and bear down their antagonists."

http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~madsb/home/war/vegetius/dere07.php

The problem in generalising, of course, is that we are drawing on very sparse sources for long periods and relating them to many different places.

This is quite an interesting site:

http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/W/weapons/longbow.html

Television shows are notoriously unreliable, but Mike Loades usually knows what he's talking about. Anyway, it puts the Long Bow draw at 80-150lbs; quite a wide range.

This is quite a useful article, but to judge by the talk it may be controversial. Click the Scutum link for the assertion that the shield was used offensively. *

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_infantry_tactics%2C_strategy_and_battle_form ations

Leperflesh
2006-03-07, 05:32 AM
More archery knowledge...

Modern target bows are generally in the 30-45 pound range. This is the range of draw weight that allows a well-practiced archer to maintain incredible accuracy over the period of an entire tournament... often 300 or more arrows, not counting practice before the tourney starts. When you are shooting outdoors for accuracy, you often must maintain full draw for several seconds before release, judging wind and making minute adjustments to the aim. After even a dozen or two arrows, endurance becomes a factor.

Hunting bows are typically much higher draw weight. Penetration of the arrow is key, especially against larger animals (deer, boar, etc). And you are unlikely to make more than three or four shots on a hunting trip. However, when hunting it may be necessary to maintain full draw for a relatively long time... twenty or thirty seconds, more even, while you stalk, move, wait for an animal to move, or present a better profile, etc.

Compound bows give a huge advantage, in that most of the draw weight is concentrated by cams into the beginning of the draw. When the bow is at full draw, you are only 'holding back' a fraction of the total draw weight - so for example, my 55lb compound bow has a 60% let-off, meaning at full draw I am only holding about 22 pounds... which (back when I was in practice) I could do for over thirty seconds. By contrast, my recurve (a modern composite bow) is 42 pounds, and I can only maintain full draw on it for about twenty seconds before I get wobbly.

One thing about that high let-off though: it means the initial part of the draw is substantially higher than the total draw weight. Many people I've shot with, who are accustomed to recurves of around 35-45 pounds, find themselves unable to draw the compound bow at all - it just 'feels too hard'. (Probably some of them really could. Experience and body-knowledge is telling them that the bow will be far too hard to bring to full draw, given initial resistance. A good jerk, however, gets you into the 'sweet spot'. Once you've drawn a compound bow fully the first time, you sort of 'get it' and from then on it seems easier to do.)

Having said all that:

I suspect that pre-modern bows came in a huge range of weights, for different purposes. In some combat scenarios, the archers may only be expected to loose perhaps a dozen flights of arrows, before their own melee/cavalry have closed with the enemy. In this scenario, maximum range is the big winner - your archers can fire on the enemy from beyond their range, and can keep firing for longer as your melee fighters close - so, you go for really high poundage bows, and understand/accept that your archers will tire quickly. Plus, at that range, accuracy is virtually nil anyway. You're relying on firing a huge mass of arrows, and hitting scattershot... not picking out individual targets and actually hitting them. So your archers can draw and release quickly, perhaps a dozen times, and then you're done with them.

In another application - say, defending a fortified position - you might want archers who can pick targets from their relative safety behind arrow-slits, hoardings, etc., and fire at besieging foes for hours on end. In this application, accuracy and long-term sustainability of fire might be the most important factors. In which case, even though you have buff, professional archers, you stick with bows of modest draw weight.

Hunting bows would again have high draw weight, to improve the odds of getting a kill against larger game, and because fewer arrows will be shot. However, accuracy is also important, so extremely high draws (over 100 lbs) would seem to me to be unlikely.

Finally, it's important to recognize that bows have a set draw length. I personally draw at 28 inches, which means I use 28 inch arrows, and my bow must be set to achieve full draw at 28 inches. Taller people tend to have longer draws, shorter people have shorter draws - your draw is based on how long your arm is, combined with a small factor depending on where you pick your anchor point (anchor along the cheek near the ear is perhaps a half inch to an inch longer than anchor at your chin. I anchor at my chin.)

You can adjust draw length somewhat by adjusting the length of the bowstring. However, even this only gives you a range of perhaps three inches or so.

If you pick up a bow with a draw length too short for you, you can do one of two things: You can draw it to its normal draw length, but be forced to shoot in an awkward manner, with the arrow nock in front of you instead of comfortably up against your face, where you can aim best. Or, you can attempt to overdraw the bow, forcing it to pull farther than it was designed to. This tends to stress the bow, risking failure, and also does not improve power - when I have tried to overdraw a slightly smaller bow, you get into a 'mushy area' where you aren't getting additional springiness, you're just kind of working against the bow.

So, in real life, bows are not universally interchangeable, unless everyone happens to be about the same height. And neither are arrows - you can shoot an arrow that is too long for you, but not one that is too short (although if your bow has an arrow rest, you can modify it to accomodate a shorter arrow. At least, you can do this with modern bows. My understanding is that most bows of antiquity lacked a true arrow rest.)

So, to sum it all up: 150 pound bows probably existed, all the way back into prehistory, but were probably not the norm. 120 pound bows were probably around for certain applications, but not used in others. Probably bows of around 80 pounds or so were the most abundant, and probably there were some of substantially lower draw weight for a few specific applications. It turns out bows and arrows are just as varied and specialized as any other piece of military hardware. What a surprise!

-Lep

Sundog
2006-03-07, 02:49 PM
Phew. And I thought 150 pounds was an exaggeration.

Here's a simpler question, also from a book... do triangular blades really create wounds that don't heal? Well, don't heal as WELL, anyway. (This one's actually from Slaughterhouse Five by K. Vonnegut.)


It's not a triangular blade; it's a blade with a triangular cross-section that causes the problematic wounds.

It's not that they don't heal, per se, but that triangular (or large circular) puncture wounds have a tendency not to close of their own accord; thus, they continue to bleed.

Actually, while this sounds unpleasent, it was largely irrelevant pre-20th century. Any incision with a depth greater than an inch to an inch and a half was almost invariably fatal anyway, due to the effects of infection and sepsis, which by and large were untreatable.

Renrik
2006-03-07, 09:32 PM
How common were mercenaries during the dark and middle ages? What weapons would they use? What armor?

What armor and weapons would drafted peasantry use?

Does anyone have pictures of polearms?

How common were javelins on the standard dark ages/middle ages european battlefield?

How much gear did a standard medeival soldier carry? How were provisions handled?

Matthew
2006-03-07, 10:14 PM
It's very difficult to answer these questions satisfactorily and impossible to be definitive for every time period and country. So much is unknown that it makes what is known look pitiful. with that caveat, here I go; I'm sure others will correct me when I go awry.

Mercenaries: A mercenary is anybody who fights for material gain without regard to patriotism or loyalty. They were common during all periods of history, but took many different forms. They are sometimes displaced from their country of origin for political reasons [as with the Greek Mercenaries that faced Alexander the Great in the pay of the Persians]. They would have whatever equipment they could acquire, but would probably not be too dissimilarly equipped from more 'regular' units. This was largely dependent dependent on economic considerations. The terms of service could become more formalised so that they settled in the places in which they served [The Norman Knights who served the Byzantine Emperor as Mercenaries during the eleventh century sometimes entered his service more formally]. The Varangian Guard could be considered to be mercenaries; they were employed by the Byzantine emperors because they were totally reliant on him and thus, supposedly, their loyalty was assured. Large numbers of Mercenaries often appear after protracted conflicts because their services are no longer needed and they're unwilling to disband.

Peasantry wuld be most likely equipped with a Gambeson (Padded Hauberk), a Pole Arm of some type and side arm of some sort. However, they might also be employed in other roles, such as Archers or Shield Bearers. Again, it depends on the economic situation and the nature of the conflict. Generally, the longer the Peasant serves the better his access to equipment, the more professional he will become and the more likely he will afterwards become a Mercenary of some sort. A lot depends on the commander and what he does with them.

Pole Arms vary over time and place; I would imagine there are loads on the web.

Specialised Javelins were perhaps not very common, but the thrown spear would have been a fairly normal piece of kit.

A Medieval Soldier? Well, that's an even more difficult question than the others. As little as he could get away with and as much as he could be induced to carry would be the quick answer.
The long answer? Sixty to eighty pounds would not be unreasonable for a fully equipped Roman Legionary. For a Foot Sergeant, as opposed to a Peasant, I would imagine a similar load. Mail could vary considerably in weight, depending on the type. It's my understanding that a Mail Hauberk could weigh anything from around 24 lbs to 48 lbs (but don't quote me on this) and more if Chausses (leggings) and Coif were worn. Maybe 10-20 lbs more for Weapons and Shield, another 10-20 lbs for other gear.
Knights would travel with several horse if they could: Pack Horse, Riding Horse and War Horse, along with a number of servants. The richer they were the more gear, horses and men.
Provisioning could actually be carefully organised. Louis IX, for instance, stockpiled 'hills' of grain at Cyprus for his invasion of Egypt in the mid thirteenth century. Richard I travelled by sea to Acre partly to avoid a vast non combatant train, but he was well provisioned and organised. Prolonged sieges, flash floods, disease and other unexpected setbacks could turn this all on it's head, though and then foraging, looting and inflated prices were the order of the day. Sometimes provisioning was badly organised, but I can't think of an example off hand.

Edmund
2006-03-07, 10:52 PM
Edmund.
Nice post. Thanks.


Crusade sources are clear that medieval armies were 'combined arms' forces. See:

Gesta Francorum et Aliorum Hierosolimitanorum, Odo of Deuil's De profectione Ludovici VII in Orientem, De Expugnatione Lyxbonensi, Ambroise's Estoire de la Guerre Sainte, Itinerarium Peregrinorum et Gesta Regis Ricardi, Villehardouin's Conquest of Constantinople and Joinville's Life of Saint Louis. amongst other things, these texts describe combined arms forces during the period 1100-1300 and describe their methods of warfare. The crusades were a very unique set of circumstances, and did indeed make greater use of infantry. It is worth noting, however, since you're mentioning Richard, that at Arsouf it was, again, the mounted knights who struck the decisive blow.

And of course one cannot forget that the main opponent of the Christians during the period were the Egyptians or Turks, both of whom were quite fond of horses.


Some modern historians still follow C. Oman in his assertion that infantry were largely irrelevant during this period, but they are a very small minority now. Whoops. You've found me out. Hah. I knew he was completely wrong about Eastern Europe (especially with statements like 'the West had paid little heed to the disasters of Russia, for it was remote, and reckoned alien and heretical.') But much of his non-directly-battle-related analysis. Huh.

I didn't know that. This is what happens when you move your interest from Liegnitz to Liberi.


Infantry / Cavalry dynamics are very difficult to talk about with any certainty and very subjective before 1300 at least. I don't know if I agree with this yet... I'll get back to you on that.


The idea that the Roman Soldier only used his Shield as a pavise is, as far as I know, wrong. Vegetius indicates that they could do so and did when standing otherwise inactive (note they 'settle down' behind them, suggesting sitting http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/archive/arma/contents/text/technica/veg1.htm). It must always be borne in mind he is writing much later than the practices he discusses, though. I think that his comparative lateness to the field of Roman military tactics is rather important, but I don't know much about Rome. Most of what I understand comes from Maurice's Strategikon, which is far, far removed from Roman combat of the early Empire.


A Pavise (as far as I can tell) was designed exclusively for use as a mobile pallisade, the Scutum was not.
I was being a bit silly with my description, and exaggerating.

What I really meant is that shields of that size do not have the mobility of the smaller Round, Norman, and Heater shields of the Middle Ages, and they also restrict movement of the sword arm to a greater extent. They do work very well, however, with the Roman style of fighting against the Romans' potential opponents.


As far as I know, the Pilum had a long (and softened) neck so that it would bend after impact and could not be thrown back or easily removed. It was thus useful for pinning one shield to another in enemy shield walls (as Caesar describes in his Galic War). Ehhh... I find this a bit doubtful, at least pinning one shield to another. Caesar describes many things in his Gallic War, (Gauls' swords bending on impact, causing their front lines to withdraw to straighten them, before attacking again), but that doesn't make it true.



I'm going to have a look around for links to them on the web in a minute and I'll post them up here; I'm afraid Roman history hasn't been my subject area for some years, so I don't have the sources to hand. I look forward to them.


The problem in generalising, of course, is that we are drawing on very sparse sources for long periods and relating them to many different places. True, but there are certain aspects that essentially remain the same, across one, two or more centuries.


This is quite an interesting site:

http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/W/weapons/longbow.html

Television shows are notoriously unreliable, but Mike Loades usually knows what he's talking about. Anyway, it puts the Long Bow draw at 80-150lbs; quite a wide range. He does indeed. He gets a few small things wrong: longsword blades cannot be categorised under the sweeping term 'broad' for they varied greatly. Many type XVas and, it seems, all XVIIs were rather thin). Lances also had low to med-carbon steel points, rather than iron. Iron would deform horribly on impact, making the weapon useless. This is relatively minor stuff, though.


This is quite a useful article, but to judge by the talk it may be controversial. Click the Scutum link for the assertion that the shield was used offensively.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_infantry_tactics%2C_strategy_and_battle_form ations

I don't see a scutum link, and in the article it only describes its use defensively. The scutum wikipedia entry is very vague about the shield's use as an offensive implement.

Crud
2006-03-07, 11:03 PM
Which medieval soldiers were and weren't mercenaries really depends on the method of raising and maintaining an army that was in use in a specific time and place.

Typically in the early Medieval period(and all of these deliniations are fuzzy at best) the typical way to raise an army was for a feudal superior(eg. a King) to send word to his vassal nobles that he required their services. They were bound to come to serve for a specific number of days a year, bringing with them all the arms, armour, mounts, supplies and men that were specified in thier feudal contract. Alternately, if a vassal lord could not come personally, then they could opt to pay a fee to their leige in order to compensate for their absence. This often made economic sense for the vassal, because maintaining their force in the field was expensive.

Later this monetary payment began to be favored by feudal lords as well, who began to levy such payments on a regular basis, rather than only in cases of emergency as would have been the case with the calling up of armies composed of vassal lords and their troops. This regular payment by the feudal nobility allowed the king(or whoever was at the top of any particular feudal heap) to pay troops to go to war for them. Now this pay was, contrary to popular belief, entirely unspectacular for regular troops. It basically amounted to an average laborers daily wages, twice as much was given to specialty troops who were in demand, but this still didn't amount to much. What was enticing about the offer was the opportunity for pillage and ransom. Though most troops did not see much money from this sort of thing and were basically risking life and limb for a subsistance living, those who could capture a great noble and successfully ransom them could be set for life. This was a powerful motivator. Here we're still talkng about troops fighting for a Monarch or other recognized head of state, but the progression is alredy apparant. Now they're fighting for the promise of wealth, rather than out of a feudal duty imposed by thier tenure on the land.

Out of this new(in the 13th and 14th centuries) economic model for warfare, and the tendancy of some troops to take the upfront portion of their fee(like a signing bonus) and never actually go to war, arose a system of contractual obligation, in which a soldier or sailor would sign on to fight for a Monarch for a set amount of time at a set rate. Percentages of booty were spelled out in the contract, and specific instances under which lost property(like warhorses-VERY expensive) would be replaced at the Monarch's expense.

This system was further refined during the late medieval period(late Hundred Years war) giving contracts to captains who would raise their own military force contracted to them specifically, and then would field thier company for the Monarch. At some points during the Hundred Years war(during lulls) the English used these forces almost exclusively on the continent. This was similar to thier latter use of 'letters of marque' in naval warfare. They would give a captain a contract to carry on their war on the continent with rights to any plunder, and then let them go off and fight, costing the crown nothing.

The most pronounced use of mercenary formations during this period was on the Italian peninsula in the constant warfare between rival cities and trading states. Though these states were small, they were economic powerhouses thanks to their domination of mediteranean trade. As much as this money was spent on patronage of reanaissance art and archetecture, it was also spent on payments to rival bands of 'contract-men' or condottieri. These mercenary companies gave loyalty only to the highest bidder, often switching sides right before or even during a battle because their employer's adversaries had quietly paid them more. These men came fom all over Europe and from every level of society to fight beside and against eachother. The most vicious and cunning would rise to truely freat hights regardless of what their station had been at birth. This is an absolutely fascinating and truely exciting period of history.

A couple of my favorite books on this period are:
Christopher Allmand. The Hundred Years War: England and France at War, c.1300-c.1450

Desmond Seward. The Hundred Years War. The English in France 1337-1453

Here's the Wiki link for the Condottieri
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Condottieri

Matthew
2006-03-07, 11:05 PM
Just updated with a link to Vegetius' saying something about offensive use of the shield, doesn't seem to be bashing, though, and it's in the context of training. Without the original Latin it's hard to know precisely what's going on.
Speaking of Mike Loades, I seem to recall that he is a proponent of the offensive use of the Scutum. I once watched an entertaining Timewatch, where he trained up some blokes to be Legionaries. I've no idea what he bases this on, probabaly his own experience.
It's interesting what you say about the Scutum, but is it reeally so big? I'm not sure; there were a number of designs and the oval one doesn't seem too different from the Norman Kite Shield. More research is needed, I suppose.

Caesar is prone to lying, it's true. Maybe it's just as Vegetius says, that the shield becomes cumbersome when pierced with the Pilum. It's been a while since I read the Gallic war.

Whilst it's true that at Arsuf the cavalry delivered the decisive blow (if it can be called that, according to some historians it was hardly a battle), but they were reliant on combined arms to be effective. This seems to be the case elsewhere, but I'd be hard pressed to demonstrate it at the moment.
There are a ton of primary sources on the De Re Militari site I linked earlier in this thread. Sadly, I don't have time to trawl through them at the moment; I'd be interested in what anyone comes up with.

Edmund
2006-03-07, 11:46 PM
Peasantry wuld be most likely equipped with a Gambeson (Padded Hauberk), a Pole Arm of some type and side arm of some sort. They would also have some type of helmet, such as a kettle-hat. Also: A gambeson is a form of padded garment. A hauberk is a shirt of maille.


However, they might also be employed in other roles, such as Archers or Shield Bearers. Again, it depends on the economic situation and the nature of the conflict. It also depends on the nature of the countries involved. Until the widespread enforcement of mandatory archery practice by the English, archers were treated as professional soldiers much the same as men-at-arms.


Generally, the longer the Peasant serves the better his access to equipment, the more professional he will become and the more likely he will afterwards become a Mercenary of some sort. A lot depends on the commander and what he does with them. This situation is fairly unlikely because of the infrequency of open battle.


Pole Arms vary over time and place; I would imagine there are loads on the web. A great place for antique weapons is Hermann Historica (http://www.hermann-historica.com/). They keep some of the galleries from their old auctions up, and they've got an amazing set of stuff.

myarmoury.com also has some neat galleries. Very cool stuff all around.


Specialised Javelins were perhaps not very common, but the thrown spear would have been a fairly normal piece of kit. The dart was actually a fairly common medieval weapon. In the East, especially, javelins were more common. The coolest, most unique javelin I've heard of was the Lead-tipped dart described by Maurice. That would hurt one hell of alot.


a Mail Hauberk could weigh anything from aroun 24 lbs to 48 lbs (but don't quote me on this) 48 pounds is ridiculously heavy. An example of full Norman-style maille (knee and elbow-length hauberk, coif, and helmet) did not exceed 30.


Maybe 10-20 lbs more for Weapons and Shield, another 10-20 lbs for other gear. 8-13 pounds for weapons and shield is more accurate. (3 pounds for sword, mace, or axe, 3 pounds for spear, 5 pounds for shield. 3 lb for buckler and/or 2 lb for close-quarters weapon being the primary variations.)

Knights would travel with several horse if they could: Pack Horse, Riding Horse and War Horse, along with a number of servants. The richer they were the more gear, horses and men. It is important to note, though, that heavily armed and armoured soldiers are not as rare as thought for a time. Medieval armies were not composed of a huge clot of peasants with sharp sticks fighting small contingents fully armed and armoured knights on destriers.

Edmund
2006-03-08, 12:02 AM
JIt's interesting what you say about the Scutum, but is it reeally so big? I'm not sure; there were a number of designs and the oval one doesn't seem too different from the Norman Kite Shield. More research is needed, I suppose.
I'm getting too tired to argue, but I can say that the biggest difference between the two shields is the placement of the wielder's arm. The size of the shields themselves are different, but more importantly the Norman shield has more weight at the bottom, lending itself more easily to being quickly lifted up a short distance without unbalancing the wielder (shifting the CoG upwards). This allows the shield to be moved more easily to intercept incoming blows, despite its size.

This does not mean that the Scutum is a bad shield, it is simply not in my taste, and does not fit with the sword-and-shield style that I am used to and prefer.

Ryujin
2006-03-08, 12:15 AM
Thanks.

The crusades were a very unique set of circumstances, and did indeed make greater use of infantry. It is worth noting, however, since you're mentioning Richard, that at Arsouf it was, again, the mounted knights who struck the decisive blow.

And of course one cannot forget that the main opponent of the Christians during the period were the Egyptians or Turks, both of whom were quite fond of horses.


J.F. Verbruggen provides several cases of combined arms forces used outside of the crusades but within the same time period. Heck, he was one of the first to question Oman's interpretation of things.

Matthew
2006-03-08, 12:19 AM
That's true. I was trying too hard to draw attention to it's role beneath a Mail Hauberk. I quite often use this term in D&D to indicate a long and full sleeved coat of armour, probably bad practice. They might have had access to a helmet of some type, they might not have; I'd be more hesitant. I concede they would be unlikely to become mercenaries, it was meant half as a joke.

How long were these darts? Were they predominate in the extreme west or just near Constantinople? I'd be interested in any sources you have.

I agree 48 pounds is very heavy, but I have heard this figure cited before (much to my astonishment). A more reliable estimate for a Mail Hauberk including coif is 25-35 lbs; with Chausses you might be looking at 40 lbs, perhaps more.

See:
Rosemary Ascherl, 'The Technology of Chivalry in Reality and Romance', in 'The Study of Chivalry: Resources and Approaches' p. 268
Andrew Ayton, Arms Armour and Horses' in Medieval warfare: A History, ed. by Maurice Keen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 188
Ian Peirce, 'The Knight, his Arms and Armour in the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries' in Ideals and practices of Medieval Knighthood: Papers from the First and Second Strwberry Hill Conferences (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1986), p.157

I don't necessarily agree with such estimates, but I'm constrained to report them.

Some Shields have been estimated at up to 12 lbs, which may be too heavy, but it's why I went with 10-20 lbs.

Here's an interesting shield article:

http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_shield.html

Here's a 'demonstration' (re-enactent)

http://www.romans-in-britain.org.uk/mil_roman_soldier_shield.htm

Equipment List and Descriptions (re-enactment):

http://www.legionxxiv.org/equipment/

A weight of 20+ lbs seems crazy to me. This weight seems firstly based on a description in Polybius, which an article by A. Treloar 'The Roman Shield vi.23.2' in the 'Classical Review' (vol. 21. no.1 March 1971) suggests is in error, and the Doncaster Shield from Yorkshire, which is a reconstruction. In any case I can't imagine Vegetius advocating training with a 40-60 lb shield (double weight). A more sensible weight seems to be 10-15 lbs, but I guess the jury's out for the moment.

I suppose the answers will be found in one of these papers:

http://www.armatura.connectfree.co.uk/romec.htm

As far as I can tell between 1100-1500 there was an increasing tendency towards heavier armour, a decreasing number of knights and an increasing number of semi professional to fully professional Sergeants and 'Squires', so I would support your assertion about infantry and cavalry having significant numbers of well armed non knightly combatants.

Darkie
2006-03-08, 03:45 AM
How much gear did a standard medeival soldier carry?

http://www.giantitp.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.pl?board=gaming;action=display;num=1139193273 ;start=21#21

The Loads They Carried
Weight of personal weapons and equipment.
Roman legionary under Marius, first century B.C - 66pounds
Armoured French knight at Agincourt, 1415 - 80 pounds
Union soldier at Gettysburg, 1863 - 50 pounds
World War I American doughboy, 1917 - 80 pounds
Allied infantryman on D-day, 1944 - 80 pounds
Russian soldier during the advance on Berlin, 1945 - 40 pounds
British Royal Marine in the Falklands, 1982 - 120 pounds
U.S. Army soldier on patrol in Afghanistan, 2002 - 100 pounds

Edmund
2006-03-08, 12:47 PM
I concede they would be unlikely to become mercenaries, it was meant half as a joke. Neither of us gets the other's joke. It's a vicious cycle.


How long were these darts? Were they predominate in the extreme west or just near Constantinople? I'd be interested in any sources you have. They appear to be a slightly altered version of the Roman plumbata. I'ver heard it was around 12 inches in length, but this was from a friend whose sources I don't know of.


I agree 48 pounds is very heavy, but I have heard this figure cited before (much to my astonishment). A more reliable estimate for a Mail Hauberk including coif is 25-35 lbs; with Chausses you might be looking at 40 lbs, perhaps more. That sounds about right, judging from (accurate) modern reproductions.


Andrew Ayton, Arms Armour and Horses' in Medieval warfare: A History, ed. by Maurice Keen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 188 I've got this book, but all he says is the price of such shirts, and how many rings they're made out of.


Here's an interesting shield article:

http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_shield.html
I forgot about this article! But it does say what I was trying to get at earlier.

'Regardless of which method was used, it is clear that the scutum was a body shield used in a relatively fixed manner, and not something that would have been wielded like the smaller, lighter shields of the late medieval period.'


Here's a 'demonstration' (re-enactent)

http://www.romans-in-britain.org.uk/mil_roman_soldier_shield.htm
Very cool.


As far as I can tell between 1100-1500 there was an increasing tendency towards heavier armour, a decreasing number of knights and an increasing number of semi professional to fully professional Sergeants and 'Squires', so I would support your assertion about infantry and cavalry having significant numbers of well armed non knightly combatants. I agree with you to a point. As far as armour is concerned, I think you're spot on, but knighthood, as far as I know, did not begin its undulating decline until the 13th century, but I'm basing this off of the Knightly Orders.

The Templars, for example, had become extremely restrictive on who was allowed to become a fully-fledged Knight of the order in that century, and threatened expulsion of anyone who lied about their social position in 1260.

Of course, such things as vague and really inquantifiable as 'the decline of knighthood' are always under debate.

Hoggmaster
2006-03-08, 01:43 PM
the scutum (stolen from the celto-iberian peoples during the punic wars) was meant to be used with the gladius (also stolen from them). the gladius is not a slahing blade, of course it could be used so, but was designed to be thrust from behind the scutum.

the pilum, of which there were two different grades, were a variety of weighted javelin (similar to the frankish angon) the head of which was tempered more that the shaft allowing the wooden part to which it is affixed by pegs to bend it upon impact with an opponents shield, thus weighing down the shield rendering it useless.

Matthew
2006-03-08, 06:29 PM
Lol, I see.

Sorry, multiple referencing; I should have checked that.

There seems to be two views of the Roman Scutum; it all depends on its actual weight. I find it difficult to believe it was some sort of mobile pallisade behind which a Legionary crouched, but the evidence is pretty sparce for any view. Further research looks necessary; I certainly don't think that web article is definitive. I'll post more when I know more.

For Polybius see:

(Type Find: 'Shield'; these translations don't seem to mention weight only dimensions)

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius6.html

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius-maniple.html

I usually advocate continuity when it comes to ancient and medieval tactics. For instance: It used to be advocated that the Roman Cavalry were not capable of being employed in the manner of Medieval Cavalry because they lacked a stirrup. It has since been 'proven' that the Roman military saddle allowed for a full range of manouevres; a stirrup is better, but not by a very great margin and couched Lances were an improvement, but not an innovation. See: 'The Great Stirrup Controversy'.

http://www.classicalfencing.com/articles/shock.shtml

http://fm.greenhillbooks.com/greenhill/gbn/81/ancient_warfare.htm

On Knighthood, check out the 'Medieval Knighthood (Boydell and Brewer)' series if you haven't already. Many interesting articles. As far as I can tell, the numbers of knights began to decline in the twelfth century as the costs rose and it became more and more elitist (i.e. as it became more an expression of social superiority than military function).
It's interesting to note that both the words Knight and Sergeant have their etymological root in Servant (also boy and warrior for knight, but these may well suggest service themselves). Even Miles had connotations of service.

Fhaolan
2006-03-08, 07:15 PM
For instance: It used to be advocated that the Roman Cavalry were not capable of being employed in the manner of Medieval Cavalry because they lacked a stirrup. It has since been 'proven' that the Roman military saddle allowed for a full range of manouevres; a stirrup is better, but not by a very great margin and couched Lances were an improvement, but not an innovation. See: 'The Great Stirrup Controversy'.


Roman military saddles were quite... odd looking, with four posts sticking out of them. http://www.caerleon.net/history/army/page9.html (Disclaimer: Not a history site, but a re-enactment one. This is the best picture I found.) Roman riding saddles apparantly looked more like what we think of as saddles. Again, some sources say the Gauls developed this saddle first, but I'm starting to get the impression that there will always be someone who claim the Celts invented everything before the Romans did. :)

I don't know anyone with a Roman/Gallic saddle. I do know someone who has tried jousting with no stirrups, though. It was in a late-medieval-style saddle with deep pommel and cantle, and her stirrup leathers broke as the horse went into the list. She didn't come off, but did mention that she felt it was only luck. The faulds of her armour had locked in with the pommel and cantle to some extent, but she definately felt the lack of stirrups.

While I'm on the subject of Romans and Gauls and horsemanship. Chariots! I love chariots. I intend to build one eventually.

There is an interesting difference between a Roman chariot and 'Celtic' chariots. Roman chariots only really worked on smooth ground, on roads, and in arenas. This is the model that D&D uses whenever chariots are mentioned. The Celts, on the other hand, weren't exactly the best road-builders, tended to live in areas where the ground wasn't that smooth, and I don't believe spent a lot of time building arenas. Yet they still used chariots in warfare. Why? How? Because Celtic chariots weren't built the same way. They had a suspension system, which the Roman versions lacked. http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/celtic/ekeltoi/volumes/vol5/5_1/karl_5_1.html According to this fellow, and several other archeologists, the Celtic chariot actually had a rope suspension system which allowed them to traverse rougher ground. Cool, yes?

Matthew
2006-03-08, 11:50 PM
Yeah; Roman Military Saddles were apparently very secure. I like Chariots, but I can't say I understand their application in warfare. Seems like they were only useful in very particular situations. I had heard that about the Celtic Chariot, I think it is also true of the Assyrian Chariot or something, but I can't remember.

Here's an amusing passage from Vegetius

"Elephants by their vast size, horrible noise and the novelty of their form are at first very terrible both to men and horses. Pyrrhus first used them against the Romans in Lucania. And afterwards Hannibal brought them into the field in Africa. Antiochus in the east and Jugurtha in Numidia had great numbers. Many expedients have been used against them. In Lucania a centurion cut off the trunk of one with his sword. Two soldiers armed from head to foot in a chariot drawn by two horses, also covered with armor, attacked these beasts with lances of great length. They were secured by their armor from the archers on the elephants and avoided the fury of the animals by the swiftness of their horses. F oot soldiers completely armored, with the addition of long iron spikes fixed on their arms, shoulders and helmets, to prevent the elephant from seizing them with his trunk, were also employed against them."

I was having horrible Lord of the Rings flashbacks. The Battle of Pelennor Fields (in the film) sucked; hmmn, maybe I should have left that comment for another thread...

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-09, 06:08 AM
Heheheheh. Nice posts all, an interesting read. :)

Chariots, well, they could be very effective against an unorganised foe (who didn't make use of phalanx formations etc) in their ability to just ride through lose formations, using side-blades (forgot what they were called) to cut down footmen. The chariot gave archers a mobile fortified platform which was faster then firing on foot, and easier then learning mounted archery, and giving them some serious up-close offensive power.

But foremost, they were a weapon of fear. A chariot with blades and spikes sticking out on all sides pulled by two horses frothing at the mouths, literally thundering its way bearing down on you is going to cause a few soiled pants. An excellent tool to use when an enemy formation is loosing its determination, and just needs a little push to start running.

Lateron, we see less and less of them because organised spear formations came into use more and more. Chariots get screwed if they were to ever charge straight into a densely packed formation, even just by the virtue of getting bogged down by the sheer amount of bodies. In the end, simple men on horses were more mobile and less expensive - thus the chariot loses a lot of advantages it had on the battlefield.

Hoggmaster
2006-03-09, 08:42 AM
There is archaeological evidence from Pompeii that the Romans at least possessed the technology of sturrips...

Also Romans did not use Chariots in warfare, cavalry was auxilliary (until the Late and eastern Empire contact with the parthians, et al. was a good thing for the mounted warrior).

Fhaolan
2006-03-09, 11:21 AM
If one takes the various Irish and Welsh tales as 'semi-factual', the primary use of chariots was as a highly mobile missile platform. War chariots were driven by a charioteer while the 'hero' was left completely free to do whatever he wanted, usually throwing javelins. When it came time to fight up-close and personal, the 'hero' would get out of the chariot, while the charioteer would retreat off the battlefield. This is similar to the dragoons and the hoplites using horses to get to the battlefield, and then getting off to fight.

The other main use for the chariot was pure transportation. A chariot pulled by two ponies can carry far more men and equipment than can ride two ponies straight. The advantage of a wheeled platform.

Belkarseviltwin
2006-03-09, 11:40 AM
If one takes the various Irish and Welsh tales as 'semi-factual', the primary use of chariots was as a highly mobile missile platform. War chariots were driven by a charioteer while the 'hero' was left completely free to do whatever he wanted, usually throwing javelins. When it came time to fight up-close and personal, the 'hero' would get out of the chariot, while the charioteer would retreat off the battlefield. This is similar to the dragoons and the hoplites using horses to get to the battlefield, and then getting off to fight.

This is also how they were used in the Trojan War.

And more information about chariots comes from a battle (I think it was Issus, maybe Gaugamela) where Alexander the Great defeated a Persian chariot army. He simply ordered his soldiers to get out of the way of the chariots, which thundered past, unable to stop, and then were destroyed by various pits and mounds his troops had made in the baggage camp.

Matthew
2006-03-09, 06:37 PM
Interesting chariot responses. Yeah, the problem with understanding them does seem to lie in the fact that most accounts are written well after they were commonly used. Homer's account of the Trojan War is fraught with anachronisms and difficulty and any extant account of Alexander's career (I can think of) was written long after the events it portrays and highly stylised. However, I would be interested in which particular source was being referred to.
Nonetheless, *it does seem logical that they were probably used as mobile missile platforms, transport vehicles and, much like elephants, to scare the hell out of an opposing army. I like Vegetius' account of them being used as anti-Elephant weapons, though I imagine getting horses to charge elephants would have been no mean feat. Interestingly, I heard once that the Italians might have made some military use of chariots during the Medieval period, but I can’t think where I read it.

On the subject of the Iberian Short Sword or Gladius. I was quite gratified to find this passage in Polybius (Book Six):

"After the shield comes the sword, which is carried upon the right thigh, and is called the Spanish sword. It is formed not only to push with at the point; but to make a falling stroke with either edge, and with singular effect; for the blade is remarkably strong and firm."

I'm starting to think Vegetius has been taken a bit too literally on the subject. I expect he was trying to emphasise the difference between the (more common by his period for infantry) Long Sword and the Short Sword. Maybe things were different in the later Rebuplic and Empire (Polybius is writing during the 2nd Century BC, after Scipio's reforms, but before Marius', I think), but I doubt it. I wonder who Vegetius is quoting? Does anybody know of any corroborating sources? Anyway, Short Swords are going to continue doing Piercing and Slashing damage in my games, for the moment.

Check out:

http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?s=3552f49693b73b4f90818b36957dae50& threadid=2685

I'm now pretty much convinced that article about static 20+ lb Scutum use is a load of nonsense; you'd think Polybius would mention it when comparing Greek and Roman fighting styles. Still, there's room for doubt; if anyone has any information, I would appreciate the references.
This forum link for MyArmouries pretty much demonstrates how troublesome the topic remains and makes reference to the static scutum as a theory postulated by a modern historian:

http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=5409

http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic.php?p=57671

Here's an interesting site for those interested in the Roman Army; it's under construction for the most part, but probably one to watch, as it's affiliated with Newcastle University.

http://museums.ncl.ac.uk/archive/arma/


Now for a question; does anybody know what Spiked Guantlets in 3.5 are supposed to look like? Are there any historical precedents? I find them difficult to imagine, except as a Dagger (6-12" Blade) version of the Pata (Indian Gauntlet Sword, as seen, most notoriously, in "Willow"), which, as I understand it, would pretty much preclude the normal use of the hand. If it's just a spiked Gauntlet, as in one or two inch knuckle spikes, why on earth does it count as being armed, when wearing a non-spiked Gauntlet doesn't? I'd appreciate other people's opinions and any reference sources. I suspect this is just one of those "D&D things," though.

[Edit: Oops, just noticed the picture. An actual Spiked Gauntlet; lame]

Dhavaer
2006-03-09, 08:06 PM
Are wrist sheathes really used to hold daggers?
What sized blade would you carry in one, and how would you use it? Drawing with the hand with the sheathe, or the one without?

Fhaolan
2006-03-09, 08:26 PM
Are wrist sheathes really used to hold daggers?
What sized blade would you carry in one, and how would you use it? Drawing with the hand with the sheathe, or the one without?

There are modern forearm sheathes. I've seen two types: The first straps to the outside of your forearm, so that the tip of the knife would project beyond your elbow when your arm is bent. This can accomidate full-size knives. The other one is strapped to the inside of your forearm. It can only accomodate small knives, as the entire knife (blade and handle) has to be shorter than the inside of your forearm by a fair margin, otherwise you can't bend your elbow or wrist properly without stabbing yourself. Because of the size limitation, they tend to be throwing knives rather than fighting knives. I've never seen one in RL where you could use the sheath-hand to draw the knife. That doesn't mean they don't exist, just that I've never seen one myself. It would probably take a lot of practice to do it without dropping the knife.

Dhavaer
2006-03-09, 10:36 PM
Thanks. How would a throwing knife and combat kinfe differ in appearance? I assume the combat knife would have a long blade in relation to the grip?

Edmund
2006-03-09, 10:51 PM
Throwing knives are often of all-steel construction, with a more robust blade to handle the impact after being thrown. Combat knives (like the various ka-bar knives, for example).

This website might be helpful:
http://www.knifethrowing.info/

Darkie
2006-03-09, 11:37 PM
Throwing knives resemble darts more than what would normally come to mind when "knife" is mentioned in a military sense (such as the aforementioned K-Bar).

Dhavaer
2006-03-10, 03:24 AM
On the website the knives looked a lot like a knife blade without a grip. Is 'grip' the right word?

Crud
2006-03-10, 03:39 AM
Tactical folders are of course a solution to the size problem. This isn't relevant to D&D's reaissance era tech, but for D20 modern I certainly wouldn't rule out a foldable dagger or small shortsword 6"-12" strapped to a forearm.

SpiderBrigade
2006-03-10, 05:00 AM
Of course the real question about wrist sheaths is, how viable are those nifty spring-loaded or gravity-driven track things as seen in about a million movies? *I'm talking about Taxi Driver, Marathon Man, etc. *Basically there's a knife/gun on your arm and by making a certain motion or "flick of the wrist" the thing pops out for immediate use.

My initial critical judgment would be "no freaking way." *Given the range of normal motion for the arms/hands, you'd end up with a knife through your palm. *A lot. *To avoid that you'd have to build more complex safety mechanisms or a more controllable release system, which would eliminate the supposed advantage of swift, one-handed access to a blade.

Which is a shame, because seriously, how cool would that be? I've been on the lookout for old desk drawers myself, just so I could tinker with it ;-)

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-10, 06:59 AM
You'd probably just have to move very very little. Give the idea you're something of the quiet, silent badguy type. ;)

Dhavaer
2006-03-10, 07:21 AM
Or better yet, the retractable sword Lucian has in Underworld. The metallic sound when it withdrew was incredibly cool. There's no way it would be feasable, though. Right?

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-10, 07:25 AM
Or better yet, the retractable sword Lucian has in Underworld. The metallic sound when it withdrew was incredibly cool. There's no way it would be feasable, though. Right?

Not to mention foolish. I would not want any metallic sounds ever when I'm unsheating/pulling/anything a metal blade meant for cutting someone up with. Metallic sounds mean something's griding against the blade.... I do Not want stuff grinding against any blade of mines!

Sundog
2006-03-10, 12:25 PM
There are two workable "automatic" wrist holsters that I'm aware of.

The first uses a kind of pressure clip to hold the gun in, which you disconnect with a sharp move of the wrist inward to maximum angle. The gun will then fall into the hand if the arm is pointed downwards.

The second is actually pneumatic. You have a small bladder on your upper arm, which you squeeze by pressing it between your upper and lower arms. The air pushes the gun up from the wrist into the palm on a couple of extending tubes, where you grip it. Because the gun remains attached to the holster, if you release it it slides back into place.

Both are designed with derringer-style small pistols in mind, and neither is reliable enough that I'd trust them. But they do work, I've seen both versions demonstrated.

I know of no similar devices for knives, but blades aren't my area of expertise.

Fhaolan
2006-03-10, 02:29 PM
Tactical folders are of course a solution to the size problem. This isn't relevant to D&D's reaissance era tech, but for D20 modern I certainly wouldn't rule out a foldable dagger or small shortsword 6"-12" strapped to a forearm.

Actually, folding knives have been around for a very long time. The historical ones I've seen are mostly spanish, and are not as easy to open as the modern tactical ones.

Dhavaer
2006-03-10, 11:37 PM
What does a Forced Entry Suit (the super heavy armour from D20 Modern) look like? Is it even real?

Fhaolan
2006-03-11, 01:29 AM
What does a Forced Entry Suit (the super heavy armour from D20 Modern) look like? Is it even real?

I don't know what's in d20 Modern, not having that ruleset, but I have seen what might be described as a Forced Entry Suit. It was for SWAT, and looked a lot like the guy was covered in very butch kevlar pillows. I believe it was for 'first in' situations where there might be explosives involved.

Goumindong
2006-03-12, 02:12 AM
http://www.defenselink.mil/transformation/images/photos/2005-04/photoessays/tpi042705a1.jpg

Something like that i imagine

or

http://images.military.com/pics/SoldierTech_Interceptor-1.jpg

(for the Forced Entry Suit)

Dhavaer
2006-03-12, 05:29 AM
Those don't look heavy enough. The second one looks almost concealable.

Fhaolan
2006-03-12, 03:52 PM
Here's a page with images of the vest part of what I saw. http://www.pinnaclearmor.com/body-armor/tactical.php Scroll down to the images below the 'Modular Pockets' header. What I saw looked a lot like this, but had sleeves and pants of the same stuff, and a cowl-like covering for the head that had an intregal gas mask.

Leperflesh
2006-03-12, 05:28 PM
There are also bomb-squad style protective suits, e.g. http://www.securityprousa.com/eodsumispeo.html

http://www.securityprousa.com/bodisu.html

Here you can see the fuller types of armor that cover shoulder and groin as well as chest:
http://www.bulletproofme.com/PHOTO%20pages/Tactical_Body_Armor_ProMAX_Tactical_PHOTOS.shtml

Here you can see a fully kitted-out SWAT team http://www.fliptophead.com/archives/images/swat-team-posing.jpg

and here's another, in super-high rez - you can make out the details. Looks like they're just wearing the fuller-coverage armor i mentioned above, along with various pads and protectors, the sort of stuff crowd-control officers wear: http://www.fliptophead.com/archives/images/swat-team-posing.jpg

for more, check out the results of this google image search: http://images.google.com/images?svnum=50&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&c2coff=1&q=SWAT +team

-Lep

Thiel
2006-03-12, 05:41 PM
I once made a wristsheath were you could draw a knife with the same hand.
One side of it was open almost all the way down to the tip so the blade only had to slide about 1-1½ inch to get free. The blade was secured with a knot that losened when you pulled at it.
When you drew the blade you pulled it 1-1½ inch straigth and then to the side.

Dhavaer
2006-03-12, 10:10 PM
I think that this:
http://www.starstore.com/acatalog/US_Swat_Team-01.jpg
might be what I was looking for. Thanks, Leperflesh!

I like the look of Fhaolan's Tactical Vest too.

SpiderBrigade
2006-03-13, 04:15 PM
I once made a wristsheath were you could draw a knife with the same hand.
One side of it was open almost all the way down to the tip so the blade only had to slide about 1-1½ inch to get free. The blade was secured with a knot that losened when you pulled at it.
When you drew the blade you pulled it 1-1½ inch straigth and then to the side.

With the same hand, you say? I'd love a more detailed description of how that worked. Where was the blade when fully sheathed? How quickly could you draw the knife out? Did it get in the way of your wrist's mobility?

I guess my initial impression of the Hollywood spring-loaded-wrist-knife was about right, sadly. It does sound like there are some at-least-workable ideas for guns, which makes sense since a gun won't impale your hand if the sheath "goes off" at the wrong moment.

Hmm, maybe some combination of the holsters Sundog mentioned could work with a one-handed FOLDING knife...

Radiant
2006-03-14, 04:32 AM
I got a question.
They say that in a Macedonian phalanx first line warriors had two-metre-long spears, while the spears of those in a second line were 6 metres long. I wonder where'd they put those spears when it was time for the close-range melee (that is, with swords) - it seems to me the ground should've been actually littered with spears after a battle!

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-14, 05:10 AM
I got a question.
They say that in a Macedonian phalanx first line warriors had two-metre-long spears, while the spears of those in a second line were 6 metres long. I wonder where'd they put those spears when it was time for the close-range melee (that is, with swords) - it seems to me the ground should've been actually littered with spears after a battle!

I haven't heard of front spears being shorter then spears at the rear. It would also screw with the purpose of a phalanx formation in the first place...

But as for where they kept em - simple, the dropped em. And you're right, the ground Would've been littered with spears... well, until they pick em up again ofcourse ;)

Ryujin
2006-03-14, 08:32 AM
I haven't heard of front spears being shorter then spears at the rear. It would also screw with the purpose of a phalanx formation in the first place...


Some sources claimed that the first five ranks had spears of progressively shorter length, so as to present five spearpoints of roughly equal distance from the front of every column in a phalanx. Polybius, though, states that the spears were of equal length, and he's generally considered to be a very reliable source. This belief may have also arisen out of a misinterpretation of Polybius' writings, as he states that each Roman swordsman occupied a frontage equal to two Macedonian spearmen, and thus had to face ten spears by himself.

Edmund
2006-03-14, 04:45 PM
I wonder where'd they put those spears when it was time for the close-range melee (that is, with swords) - it seems to me the ground should've been actually littered with spears after a battle! If the phalanx was broken into , making close-melee imminent, they would simply drop their sarissa.

This is one of the main things that bothers me about the D&D 5-foot-step rule. No one makes a five-foot step (two steps, actually) without incurring some sort of attack. If you're too close to use a pike in real combat, you don't step back and keep attacking with the pike. You drop it and switch to a katzbalger or whathaveyou.

While people do circle and there is a sort of tidal movement to melee combat, it is not the same. If someone is planning to shoot you with a crossbow, they cannot do so effectively if you get to close, and must abandon the weapon. Why? Well, let's look at three possible scenarios:

1) Crossbow wielder wants to shoot you, but has to reload. Crossbowman loses.
2) Crossbowman wants to shoot you, doesn't have to reload, but you turn aside the weapon with your hand or shield and stab him in the chest.
3) Crossbowman wants to shoot you with loaded weapon, and so takes a five foot step back. You don't wait for him to shoot, though, but instead move with him and still kill him.

Thiel
2006-03-14, 04:52 PM
I think the "five foot step" is designed to jump around corners and so. At least thats how I use it when I am the DM.

Matthew
2006-03-14, 06:55 PM
It's the usual scenario. Pikes vary in length over space and time. The Macedonian Phalanx may have used Pikes as long as twenty four feet (Sixteen Cubits), but they may have been substantially shorter. It has indeed been suggested that at some stage the Phalanx made use of Pikes of mixed length so that they all 'squared up,' but, as Ryujin indicates, that was not the assertion of Polybius in the Second Century BC. Although he is writing well after Alexander, he is commonly felt to be reliable. [Edit: Ryujin, could you point me towards the sources you refer to supporting different Pike lengths?]
There was probably some degree of experimentation in the use of the Phalanx over the years; it certainly outlasted both Philip and Alexander as an organised military unit.
As Bug a Boo and Edmund indicate, if the Phalanx was forced into close combat (which would be undesirable), Pikes would simply be dropped (at least by the front ranks) and swords drawn, just as with conventional spear and shield formations. How much Body Armour was worn and whether they carried some sort of shield (some historians suggest that they did) would likely be deciding factors in such an engagement. As far as I can tell, it would be a last resort.

Check out these links for more information:

Polybius:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/polybius-maniple.html

General Information (Traditional Views: Use with care):

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonian_phalanx

http://www.livius.org/phi-php/philip/philip_ii3.html

http://www.historyofmacedonia.org/AncientMacedonia/PhilipofMacedon.html

Article on Formations (More useful for sources referenced):

http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson/GranicusNotes.html

Modern References:

http://www.anchist.mq.edu.au/222/222_ESSAYS03.html

http://academics.vmi.edu/history_rms/greek.htm

We should probably start a new thread on the five foot step.

Edit: After a battle the ground would probably be littered with more than just spears.

Darkie
2006-03-14, 07:49 PM
Someone's pointed out before that troops train with their weapons...

If you're the guy holding the 10-foot version and training with it alongside your buddies with the 20-foot versions... well, sucks to be you.

And of course, what ends up happening is you have all these green troops at the front with low morale...

draconic_swine
2006-03-15, 09:09 PM
I know that rapiers were used either by themselves or in conjunction with an off-hand weapon of some sort: a dagger, a buckler, or even a cape.

However, I've read once or twice about a "case of rapiers" -- that is to say, fighting with two rapiers at once. Did this actually occur, or is it just something that was made up and others spread as truth because it's on the Internet?

Thomas
2006-03-15, 10:00 PM
A case of rapiers sounds like something that a belligerent nobleman might have carried around in the 18th or 19th century (probably not much earlier, since dueling was less formalized and idealized prior to then) in order to facilitate a duel. Find your location, have the seconds check the swords, let your opponent pick first, and have at it...

I've not read any period material referring to using two rapiers at once; rapiers were LONG, heavy swords, slow to use, and it seems pretty unfeasible to use one in your off-hand; it'd be wasteful, too, since a parrying dagger or buckler would do a better job at defending you, and that's pretty much all you'd want a second weapon for.

Edmund
2006-03-16, 01:33 AM
Actually, rapiers had completely gone out of style in the 19th century, and had gotten at least half-way down the slope of fashionable obsolescence (thanks, in part, to duelling laws that made the 'first blood' rule preferable) at the start of the 18th century.

I myself have never heard of a case of rapiers, but I haven't studied the weapon in *that* much depth.

Oh! A note on throwing knives: Talhoffer, in his 1459 version, illustrates a fellow getting struck in the chest with a thrown dagger. The dagger is a ballock dagger, and is therefore not made with throwing in mind.

It is also noteworthy that the victim is only a few feet away. Throwing, it seems, is not a preferred tactic at all, but merely a way of extending your reach if necessary.

Here it is. Along with other interesting pages. (http://base.kb.dk/pls/hsk_web/hsk_vis.side?p_hs_loebenr=2&p_sidenr=157&p_illnr=0 &p_frem=20&p_tilbage=20&p_navtype=rel&p_lang=en g)

The ones surrounding what I showed deal with unarmoured sword or knife/non-sword combat. The sword wins every time. Take that, Silver. Take that

Silivren
2006-03-16, 02:09 AM
Huh, it looks to me more like he's being struck in the face with a thrown hat...

Edit: In fact, in the absence of any descriptive text (perhaps there is some elsewhere?) I'd interperet that picture as a man throwing his hat in his opponent's face as a desperate attempt at distraction, since he'd lost his dagger driving it into the man's chest.

AMX
2006-03-16, 04:47 AM
I'm not familiar with a "case of rapiers"... but I do know there were "twin rapiers": Looks like one while sheated, but falls apart into two when drawn.

Fhaolan
2006-03-16, 10:27 AM
I know that rapiers were used either by themselves or in conjunction with an off-hand weapon of some sort: a dagger, a buckler, or even a cape.

However, I've read once or twice about a "case of rapiers" -- that is to say, fighting with two rapiers at once. Did this actually occur, or is it just something that was made up and others spread as truth because it's on the Internet?

I've heard the term 'Case of rapiers', meaning two matched rapiers weilded by a single fighter. And, I know several people who have trained in this style. However, I have never actually found historical reference to this. It may be a misinterpretation based on a matched set of rapiers meant for dueling.

Edmund
2006-03-16, 12:58 PM
In fact, in the absence of any descriptive text (perhaps there is some elsewhere?) I'd interperet that picture as a man throwing his hat in his opponent's face as a desperate attempt at distraction, since he'd lost his dagger driving it into the man's chest.

You don't 'lose' your dagger after driving it into a fellow's chest at that distance. This is even more true a gainst a foe with a spear, since at such close range where your stabbing each other with daggers (grappling), a spear is completely useless.

As for descriptive text, there is some on this page:

http://www.aemma.org/onlineResources/talhoffer1459/contents_body.htm

Silivren
2006-03-16, 03:18 PM
Ah, yes. The site went down just after I'd followed the link the first time, so I didn't get to find that text. (also, I somehow got the idea that the spear-wielder's jacket was some sort of breastplate that a dagger could somehow get jammed in, assuming someone was crazy enough to even try to drive it through. That's what I get for posting tired)

Thiel
2006-03-16, 07:14 PM
While we are on the topic of of-hand parrying daggers I'd like to ask a question.
Were swordbreakes used as off-hand weapons? For that matter did they even exist?

Edmund
2006-03-17, 03:23 PM
Well.... Yes, they certainly did exist, but they were made for later swords.

http://www.myarmoury.com/albums/albums/aa_antique/normal_Dolch_1590_2.jpg This is an antique sword breaker. There are also the 'spring loaded' main gauches that are called sword breakers.

They were used as off-hand weapons, but only against rapiers.

Fhaolan
2006-03-17, 03:59 PM
While we are on the topic of of-hand parrying daggers I'd like to ask a question.
Were swordbreakes used as off-hand weapons? For that matter did they even exist?


As Edmund said, they were meant to work on rapiers. Even then, my experiments with them say that they probably only really broke poor-quality rapiers. Against a good-quality blade I could 'trap' the opposing blade, but not break it. At least, not in a duel situation where I don't have time to sit there and bend it back and forth several times because my opponent is still trying to kill me. Good rapiers are considerably tougher than popular opinion would indicate.

Reltzik
2006-03-19, 12:17 AM
Just how cumbersome WAS metal armor?

I keep hearing two answers to the question. One says that it was extremely cumbersome, relegating the use of full plate to knights (whose horses did most of the moving). The other says that while heavy (thus handicapping such activities as swimming or climbing onto a horse, and also sapping endurance over a long battle), the weight was well-distributed and freedom of movement was not much impaired.

Which is right?

Sorry if this has already been answered, but I'm too lazy busy to read through 30 pages of Q&A.

Ryujin
2006-03-19, 01:03 AM
Just how cumbersome WAS metal armor?

I keep hearing two answers to the question. *One says that it was extremely cumbersome, relegating the use of full plate to knights (whose horses did most of the moving). *The other says that while heavy (thus handicapping such activities as swimming or climbing onto a horse, and also sapping endurance over a long battle), the weight was well-distributed and freedom of movement was not much impaired.

Which is right?

Sorry if this has already been answered, but I'm too lazy busy to read through 30 pages of Q&A.

The first answer is complete BS propagated by mass media as Hollyweird (not to mention the wussy Victorian-era historians like M.P. Lacombe, who probably can't swing a longsword to save his life) more often than not failed to differentiate between war armour and the heavier, less articulated tournament armour. *The second answer is correct. *A fit knight can actually do handstands and cartwheels while wearing a full harness. *Lots of historical accounts tell of knights jumping onto and off a saddle as a matter of due course. *One was even recorded as having fallen off a bridge and climbing out of the river unaided. *Note that modern soldiers often have to bear heavier loads, and the weight not as well distributed on their combat webbing & backpacks.

http://img226.imageshack.us/img226/6362/armorhandstand0gg.jpg (http://imageshack.us)

Fhaolan
2006-03-19, 01:25 AM
Just how cumbersome WAS metal armor?

I keep hearing two answers to the question. *One says that it was extremely cumbersome, relegating the use of full plate to knights (whose horses did most of the moving). *The other says that while heavy (thus handicapping such activities as swimming or climbing onto a horse, and also sapping endurance over a long battle), the weight was well-distributed and freedom of movement was not much impaired.

Which is right?

Sorry if this has already been answered, but I'm too lazy busy to read through 30 pages of Q&A.

Full plate armor is heavy, but with well-constructed and well-fitted armor you can turn cartwheels, do handstands... heck, I know a man who can 'kip' up in full plate. (Kip being that strange kick up to a crouched position from being flat on your back, if you didn't already know that. :) )

Modern reproduction armor is usually considerably heavier than actual historical suits. I have a reproduction Itallian white harness, which weighs 85-95 lbs depending on what 'options' are attached. The actual suit it's modelled off is 65 lbs. The difference is that modern repros tend to use rolled steel of a consistant thickness with no tempering, while historical suits are thick only where they need to be and are tempered so the metal is considerably stronger for its thickness.

The big difference, however, is the fit. My suit is very badly fitted. It technically fits me, but I have difficulty taking a full breath, and I can't put my hands together in front of me. And this was supposedly custom made for me. Compare this to that friend of mine who can kip up. He has a suit of Gothic that was *truely* made custom for him, by a fellow who makes suits for museums. That fits him.

Edmund
2006-03-19, 04:43 PM
Weight distribution is the major advantage plate-type armours have over any other type, really. With a hauberk, all the weight is pretty much on the shoulders, and the same goes for other types of body armours. But with a full harness, the straps et al distribute the weight fairly evenly across the body.

Of course, this is not to say that a man in a suit of plate armour will be as unhindered as a man without the 45 lbs of steel weighing him down. The change will be noticeable, but nowhere near enough to give an unarmoured man the advantage.

This reminds me of something I've meant to rant about. The History Channel is by no means reputable, especially regarding their shows which describe pre-20th century history. In one show called 'Battlefield Detectives', I think, they revisited Agincourt. They explained that the mud at Agincourt provided alot of suction on the French Men-At-Arms' steel (and iron) sabatons, as opposed to the English longbowmen's leather soled hose or boots. Well, this is wrong.

First of all, Italian sabatons were almost exclusively maille. The Gothic-type armours with their pointed sabatons (meant for horseback) did not come until the mid-late 15th c.

Second, as far as I know they *did not* cover the sole of the foot except with leather belts to keep the sabaton in place.

I mean, in all honesty, what is the practical advantage of steel on the *bottom*? There is none, that I can see (aside from stepping on caltrops without harming your boots) only disadvantages. (slipping on wet stones and getting caught in mud, having just one more place to clean the inevitable rust off of)

I have many, many problems with the "History" Channel besides this, but they don't deal with Arms and Armour.

Matthew
2006-03-19, 05:45 PM
I can definitely sympathise with that view of the History Channel and in particular the Battlefield Detectives Battle of Agincourt. The evidence for what they were attempting to prove was sketchy at best and pretty much rested on a series of mutually supportive assumptions. It's not an invalid view, but nor is it definitive.
'History' shows in general seem primarily intended for entertainment, rather than for education. Anything that the producers can't get a professional historian to say is conveyed by actors or a voice over. What you tend to end up with is a hodge podge of views that largely occur out of context with one another. The recent Crusades 'Crescent and the Cross' was a good example of this kind of procedure. It was an entertaining series, but in now way did it convey the whole story or the current academic view of the crusades.
History is a discursive exercise; if you want to learn about it, you're better off with a book, the more the better, because you have to view all the available evidence to get a balanced view. It's a rare history programme that presents a balanced case or parallel alternative view points without debunking most in favour of one.

[end rant]

*As far as I know, Edmund, you're right; most armour did not cover the soles of the feet with metal, nor, I believe, the palm of the hand, but that's just my observation; I'm sure some did.

Fhaolan
2006-03-19, 07:47 PM
First of all, Italian sabatons were almost exclusively maille. The Gothic-type armours with their pointed sabatons (meant for horseback) did not come until the mid-late 15th c.

Second, as far as I know they *did not* cover the sole of the foot except with leather belts to keep the sabaton in place.


I agree with both of these. Metal plate sabatons were later period. At the time of Agincourt maille sabatons were more common, if sabatons were worn at all.

Also, I have never seen any armor with metal covering the soles of the shoes, or the palms of the hands.

Most plate armor also does not cover the armpits or the buttocks, relying on maille patches, or a maille skirt for this. Riding a horse becomes very... interesting... when your armor is completely covering. There *were* armors that had complete coverage, but these were
rare and unusual late-period pieces made for kings in the Maximillian style. I believe the only one still in existance, if there were ever others, was made for a specific king, but which one slips my mind right now.

Matthew
2006-03-19, 10:21 PM
Ah, nice to have that confirmed; can you point me in the direction of any sources on this subject?

Fhaolan
2006-03-20, 02:44 AM
Ah, nice to have that confirmed; can you point me in the direction of any sources on this subject?

Some of these might be a bit tricky to get ahold of I don't have copies of some of them personally, but I have 'access', if I ask nicely and wear gloves... don't ask...

Arms & Armor of the Medieval Knight by David Edge & John Paddock
European Arms and Armour by Charles Ashdown
European Armor by Claude Blair
Arms and Armor in Antiquity and the Middle Ages by Charles Boutell
A Record of European Armour Through Seven Centuries by Sir Guy Francis Laking
Ancient Armour and Weapons in Europe by John Hewitt

I don't actually have this one, but I've read excerpts from it: Agincourt, a New History by Anne Curry.

Agincourt was in 1415. Millanese armourers didn't produce sabatons until the 16th century. Which is weird because everyone else was using sabatons since the middle of the 15th century. Of course, most of the artistic depictions of Agincourt were created long after the battle, and the artists tended to use the armour of their own times rather than historically accurate ones, so the paintings and tapestries have them wearing 16th century or later armor, including sabatons. :)

Matthew
2006-03-20, 10:00 AM
Thanks for that Fhaolan.

We're having quite an interesting discussion over on the critical miss thread, but it seems to have strayed into the 'real world' recently, so I was wondering if anybody could answer this question about Great Swords.

"How much space (on average) did they require to be used effectively?"

and

"Was this weapon potentially dangerous to one's own allies, if they were to stray too close? (and how close is too close?)"


I've often issued warnings to players over the years about straying too close to their Great Sword wielding fellows, but that was mainly in the context of 2.0 where space was fairly abstract and the warnings were based on speculations that you needed more room to use a Great Sword (for the purposes of this post a two handed sword with a blade in excess of around 48") than a Long Sword (for the purposes of this post a one handed sword with an average blade length of 30-36"). Any help with this question would be appreciated.

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-20, 10:40 AM
Wow, the forum has been very very busy since I was gone for the weekend :o

Lemme see whether I can answer that Matt...

http://www.thearma.org/essays/2HGS.html Okay, if you scroll all the way down in this article, you'll find three pictures of JC holding a greatsword. The article isn't relevant, but the way he holds the sword in the pictures should give you a good idea what kind of space one might need.

Now on to combat fighting space. Generally, when swinging a greatsword around trying to cut, the fighter would need about 10ft of 'safe zone' in all directions to avoid accidentally hitting someone else. However, this doesn't mean a fighter can't fight in close. After all, by gripping the blade (and most greatswords even had a special grip area for that) and sticking to thrusts, the greatsword fighter can easily fight in close confines without endangering others.

All in all, I think it's up to you to determine how much of a danger the greatswordsman is to his fellows. Is he hacking around like a madman swinging his blade all over the place, or is he a tactical fighter, switching to stabby fighting when his allies get too close?

Matthew
2006-03-20, 10:58 AM
Thanks Bug-a-boo, that's what I figured: depends on the circumstances and the combatants (if I understand you correctly). I did look at that article when I was thinking about this, as I remembered you'd posted it in the Weapon Equivalencies Thread; the pictures were very helpful.

As an aside, an interesting "The Real History of the Crusades' article just recently turned up on Arma (it might have been there a while, but I just noticed it). I think he puts the case a little strongly and bluntly, but anybody looking for a remedy to the recent History Channel 'Crescent and the Cross' would do well to check it out as an alternative reading (I have a feeling it's something of a response to some of the odd things that were said on that show)

Fhaolan
2006-03-20, 11:43 AM
To summarize what I know of great-sword work, great swords take up a similar amount of room in combat as one of the shorter poleweapons, like a pollaxe or halberd, but can be 'shorted' by going into half-sword techniques. Half-sword is a major part of using a great-sword, as it allows more close-quarter work. However, it's a really dumb weapon to use in a corridor unless all you're interested in is blocking the way rather than efficiently attacking.

To my knowledge, there were three places a greatsword was used. The first was when a force of knights met another force of knights on foot in a battle. This was a relatively rare occurance, because knights would prefer to be on horseback during such encounters, but circumstances don't always happen the way you want.

The second was in judicial duels and contests between armored oponents. This is what you see in a lot of the fight manuals, with the rope barrier set up around the fighters.

The third is by lightly armoured weilders against pike formations. Like the halberd, greatswords were used to disrupt opposing pike formations so your own formation can take advantage. It's a very dangerous job this, and you're expected to die pretty quick, so the pay was very high relatively speaking.

Raum
2006-03-20, 06:30 PM
As an aside, an interesting "The Real History of the Crusades' article just recently turned up on Arma (it might have been there a while, but I just noticed it). I think he puts the case a little strongly and bluntly, but anybody looking for a remedy to the recent History Channel 'Crescent and the Cross' would do well to check it out as an alternative reading (I have a feeling it's something of a response to some of the odd things that were said on that show)
The article has as many potential problems as the History Channel and BBC documentaries. For starters, it's hard to justify calling a projection of force to another continent a "defensive war". Even worse, the author tries to say that the crusades were not related to the Catholic church's alleged "intolerance". What this ignores are the crusades which never left the european continent or attacked christians not under the sway of the church. Examples include the sack of Constantinople and the destruction of the Cathars.

The truth is likely somewhere in between the two views. I tend to think there were as many political reasons for the crusades as religious (many of the crusaders were land hungry younger sons) but use of the crusades against the Cathars and other "heretics" make painting the church as innocent problematical at best.

Beleriphon
2006-03-20, 07:47 PM
What exactly defines a scimitar? Is it any generic one edged blade with a curve? Is it a weapon used by a specific group of people that happened to have a curve? What makes a scimitar different than a cutlass, beyond one have a basket hilt?

Finally is this a scimitar?
http://my.opera.com/Inquisitor/homes/files/old_forum_import/s.jpg

Oh and one last note, for the far future types. Rails guns a currently a hotly debated subject in some areas of the web. I found a nifty site that shows such a weapon could be feasible, and man portable with some work.
http://www.powerlabs.org/railgun.htm

Bug-a-Boo
2006-03-20, 07:57 PM
Main Entry: scim·i·tar
Pronunciation: 'si-m&-t&r, -"tär
Function: noun
Etymology: Italian scimitarra
: a saber having a curved blade with the edge on the convex side and used chiefly by Arabs and Turks


I'd say the dictionary definition is spot on. A curved blade is named differently according to cultural location. In europe, curved blades of this kind are thus sabers, cutlasses or falchions (depending on variations of design), in other places, they're named differently.

So a scimitar would best be defined as a single edged curved blade of moderate broadness (thus no huge blades or such) designed for single handed use and employed by middle eastern cultures.

And about railguns, sure they'll eventually be man-portable weapons. They question just remains whether they'll be cost/enegry-efficient enough to actually be used. In the end, if the basic bullet is cheaper and easier to carry, then that's what we'll still be using 200 years away.

Matthew
2006-03-20, 09:07 PM
The article has as many potential problems as the History Channel and BBC documentaries. *For starters, it's hard to justify calling a projection of force to another continent a "defensive war". *Even worse, the author tries to say that the crusades were not related to the Catholic church's alleged "intolerance". *What this ignores are the crusades which never left the european continent or attacked christians not under the sway of the church. *Examples include the sack of Constantinople and the destruction of the Cathars. *

The truth is likely somewhere in between the two views. *I tend to think there were as many political reasons for the crusades as religious (many of the crusaders were land hungry younger sons) but use of the crusades against the Cathars and other "heretics" make painting the church as innocent problematical at best. *

Oops, my mistake, wrong subject matter for this thread; I didn't mean to spark anything. I assure you his view of the Crusades is a good deal more historical [i.e. generally accepted in the academic community] than the version the history channel recently projected. The points you make have been well discussed over the years. However, as I said, history is a discursive exercise, 'right' and 'wrong' are pretty subjective, especially when they're attached to very emotive issues and especially in this case.
If you want to discuss this further, just drop me a message and let me know what your particular points of contention are [Please reference sources, though].

Edmund
2006-03-20, 10:03 PM
Raum, I disagree with your assessment of the Crusades to some extent, but I'll just move back to Weapons and Armour, and we can discuss it in our own time.


Fhaolan, I have a correction and a few disagreements: Milanese armours did have sabatons before the 16th c, just not plate ones.

The swords seen in judicial duels between armoured opponents, as far as I know, were longswords.

It's a tricky distinction to make, but the way I think of it, using the Oakeshott typology, the two-handed cutting types (primarily the XIIIa and the XX, but also the XIIa, some XVIa, and even one or two XVIII such as this one (http://www.myarmoury.com/view.html?features/pic_spotxviii06.jpg)) For me, it really depends on how large the sword is and what its primary function is. Longswords are mainly thrusters, Renaissance Two-Handers are gigantic levers, and the greatswords are mainly cutters.

Some greatswords were, believe it or not, used on horseback, single-handed.

Belerophon:
Cutlasses are actually significantly shorter than the scimitar, and are not meant to be used on horseback as their Middle Eastern cousins are so intended. The basket hilt, of course, is one of the more identifiable attributes, but in function that's one of the primary differences.

Also: That is not a real scimitar, but a fantasy model. It looks a bit silly (especially with the hawk-head pommel. Here are some real examples: http://www.myarmoury.com/albums/displayimage.php?album=50&pos=25

Raum
2006-03-20, 10:40 PM
Hmmm, lets continue the crusades discussion in another forum...send me a message and let me know where. I will say that my comments were an assessment of the essay by Prof. Madden not an assessment of the crusades themselves.

On to the railgun discussion, their are at least two major challenges to a man portable railgun. The second may be more of a problem.

First, the energy requirements are high enough to make power a difficult proposition. Last I heard, the researchers had a working model (afraid I couldn't find the link) of a tank mounted railgun which could be fired every six minutes...far too slow for combat use. Miniaturizing a powersupply to be man (or even squad) portable while stepping up the power generation to allow quickly repeatable shots will take a while.

The more difficult challenge is the recoil. A railgun is not a rocket, the force exerted to launch the projectile is imparted by the electromagnetic relation between it and the rails. It will impart the same force, in the opposite direction, to the rails themselves. With the higher potential velocity of the railgun, the projectile will have to be much smaller than an equivalent gunpowder weapon making target penetration a potential problem.

As others have pointed out in the thread, weapons have to be more cost effective than their alternatives to be adopted. While I hope (and believe) science will advance to enable creation of small railguns, I do wonder if they will be effective enough to replace chemical firearms.

Edit: Spelling...or should I say "typing"

Ryujin
2006-03-21, 12:36 AM
The more difficult challenge is the recoil. *A railgun is not a rocket, the force exerted to launch the projectile is imparted by the electromagnetic relation between it and the rails. *It will impart the same force, in the opposite direction, to the rails themselves. *With the higher potential velocity of the railgun, the projectile will have to be much smaller than an equivalent gunpowder weapon making target penetration a potential problem. *


Actually, the recoil produced by a railgun is significantly less than an equivalent chemical propellant weapon projecting the same amount of kinetic energy. As we all know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. In the case of chemical propellant weapons, a significant proportion of the action (about 40% or so) is produced by the mass of the propellant charge and the velocity of the propellant gasses as it combusts. Plainly, getting rid of the propellant takes away much of the recoil. In addition, if the EM weapon were to utilize present-day recoil mechanisms as normally found on MBT's and such, felt recoil could be reduced even further, to about 1/4th that of a chemical propellant weapon.

Regarding the size of the projectile, it should be noted that the rod penetrator of the M829 APFSDS round for the Abrams' 120mm tank gun, the projectile that actually hits the target, is only 23mm in diameter, but weighs in at almost 5 kg. and is 78 cm long. The 120mm sabot that surrounds it is necessary only because of the chemical propellant required to drive it at such high velocities. With an electromagnetic weapon, one can use a projectile of similar diameter, as long as the railgun is powerful enough to accelerate the projectile to equal the kinetic energy delivered by a conventional tank round.

The power supply is the bigger problem. Interestingly enough, a compulsator & associated equipment good enough to power a fieldable railgun would also go a long way towards powering a fieldable laser.

Another would be rail erosion. Some of the earlier experimental railguns had to have the rails replaced after every shot.

IMHO, railguns are but an interim step--coilguns are superior, but are also farther away technologically.

Thiel
2006-03-21, 05:28 AM
Wasn't the cutlas a shorter and broader version of the saber made for shipboard use?

AMX
2006-03-21, 05:35 AM
Actually, the recoil produced by a railgun is significantly less than an equivalent chemical propellant weapon projecting the same amount of kinetic energy.
Not necessarily ... a really sucky railgun, with a muzzle velocity considerably below a conventional weapon of equal muzzle energy, would have more recoil. (Which is determined by impulse, not energy.)
But I'm just nitpicking here.


As we all know, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. *In the case of chemical propellant weapons, a significant proportion of the action (about 40% or so) is produced by the mass of the propellant charge and the velocity of the propellant gasses as it combusts. *Plainly, getting rid of the propellant takes away much of the recoil.
Unless, of course, you're mounting a muzzle brake.
If it's good enough, a brake can lower effective recoil below that of the projectile alone (by redirecting enough gas rearwards - basicall like a recoilless rifle, but venting near the muzzle, rather than at the rear).


In addition, if the EM weapon were to utilize present-day recoil mechanisms as normally found on MBT's and such, felt recoil could be reduced even further, to about 1/4th that of a chemical propellant weapon.
Kinda dodgy argument here - what's stopping people from using these same recoil mechanisms on normal guns?

Fhaolan
2006-03-21, 10:04 AM
Fhaolan, I have a correction and a few disagreements: Milanese armours did have sabatons before the 16th c, just not plate ones.


I think this is a terminology issue. When I say sabatons, I mean plate sabatons. I tend not to use the term when connected to maille 'sabatons'. It just doesn't feel right to call them sabatons, but I don't have an alternative term to use instead.



The swords seen in judicial duels between armoured opponents, as far as I know, were longswords.


It's tricky where the dividing line is between longsword and greatsword is. You're probably right though.



Some greatswords were, believe it or not, used on horseback, single-handed.


Really? That's impressive. I can use a greatsword one-handed, but not with the required degree of finesse needed for real combat. I'm relatively big and reasonably strong so it's technically possible, but it's more a flail about randomly action. :)

Ryujin
2006-03-21, 10:32 AM
Not necessarily ... a really sucky railgun, with a muzzle velocity considerably below a conventional weapon of equal muzzle energy, would have more recoil. (Which is determined by impulse, not energy.)
But I'm just nitpicking here.

Then there's no point in fielding it if it's so sucky.



Unless, of course, you're mounting a muzzle brake.
If it's good enough, a brake can lower effective recoil below that of the projectile alone (by redirecting enough gas rearwards - basicall like a recoilless rifle, but venting near the muzzle, rather than at the rear).

In exchange for increased noise, pressure, blast and flash. *Flash is still a problem at present, due to the plasma produced by rail erosion, but the rest are much less from a railgun.



Kinda dodgy argument here - what's stopping people from using these same recoil mechanisms on normal guns?

Because the recoil of the conventional weapon already takes into account said recoil mechanism. *Like I already said:*as normally found on MBT's & such

pincushionman
2006-03-21, 11:41 AM
The power supply is the bigger problem. *Interestingly enough, a compulsator & associated equipment good enough to power a fieldable railgun would also go a long way towards powering a fieldable laser.

That's an interesting point, but considering with a laser you need a direct line-of-sight to hit, and time-on-target to do damage, you still have advantages in using a railgun instead. As in, you can still fire through cover, from behind terrain, use varying munitions, etc.

'Course, that's nothing conventional rounds can't do either.