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Ashtagon
2012-08-20, 02:00 AM
Wikipedia says that a katana is defined by a blade at least 24" long. Add another 8" (generous) for a grip, and at 32", it's barely long enough to be classed as a longsword.

The longest modern "replica" katana I have found has a blade of 33". With grip, it comes up to 41" (estimated).

By compariosn, wikipedia identifies bastard swords as having a blade length of 39-48", plus an additional 8-11" grip, for a total length of 47-51". Wikipedia identifies longswords (in an older version of the article, before it got merged with bastard swords) as 35-36" blade length and total length 41-47"

The bastard sword is a good foot longer than the katana, which barely makes the length category for longswords.

Given that D&D rules do allow for longswords to be used two-handed, is there action any reason beyond "ethnic cool" for the weapon to be given bastard sword stats?

(please, no thread crapping with *that* post)

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 02:24 AM
Uh...

Katanas were mainly two handed weapons. Plenty of one handed manuevers possible, but two handed weapon.



The bastard sword is a good foot longer than the katana, which barely makes the length category for longswords.

Cannot find anything about 'lenght category' in 3.5. Pretty sure weapons doesn't have any real defined lenght etc. in D&D?

Ashtagon
2012-08-20, 02:42 AM
Uh...

Katanas were mainly two handed weapons. Plenty of one handed manuevers possible, but two handed weapon.

Cannot find anything about 'lenght category' in 3.5. Pretty sure weapons doesn't have any real defined lenght etc. in D&D?

Um yeah. I'm trying to tie real-world information to my game. I guess that's why I was using a real-world source of information.

Stray
2012-08-20, 02:55 AM
When I was training Ken-Jutsu, my training swords had an overall length of 40 inches, with hilt from 10 to 12 inches. Senior instructors katanas were similar in size. Some techniques actually required grabbing hilt of your opponents sword between his hands, so hilts were definitely longer than 8 inches.

Driderman
2012-08-20, 02:57 AM
Try here: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238042&page=45

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 03:03 AM
Um yeah. I'm trying to tie real-world information to my game. I guess that's why I was using a real-world source of information.

I'm not sure what's the point then.

Katanas were two handed sword, but wieldable with one hand - for some manuevers, like getting a bit more reach, for example.

Just like most most European longswords.

D&D 'greatsword' seems to cover large, pretty strictly two handed swords, so katana is 'bastard sword'. Though in D&D that generally has not much use, and one is better off with other weapons...


Personally, I would just stat katana as 3.5 'falchion' and be done with it.

Ashtagon
2012-08-20, 03:05 AM
http://www.bugei.com/LongTsuka.html
http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-46064.html

Between the photos and the statement that the tsuka (grip) is typically 1/3 blade length and not long enough for a third hand to grip the tsuka, that brings the range to 32-37" for historical katana, and 44" for that reproduction blade. Which still makes it a short longsword.

hmm.

Krazzman
2012-08-20, 03:57 AM
http://www.bugei.com/LongTsuka.html
http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-46064.html

Between the photos and the statement that the tsuka (grip) is typically 1/3 blade length and not long enough for a third hand to grip the tsuka, that brings the range to 32-37" for historical katana, and 44" for that reproduction blade. Which still makes it a short longsword.

hmm.

Afaik the Longsword was mostly used as 1-1/2-hander. I had a... let's say few connections to a local "knight-group" or something like that. I never saw one of them use their sword one handed. Never saw a shield in use there either... probably because I mostly were there for my friends and to spent time with them.

In my opinion Pathfinder did the Katana "right". As the DnD standard Longsword is a one-handed weapon it uses the same stats.

The differences I have seen is that while europeans use different words for different swords (Shortsword/Longsword/Flamberg/Claymore etc.) we drop the additional information and just use the term Katana when talking about them.

Some years ago I thought about ordering a Katana. There are differences in lenght of the blade and curve of the blade as well as grip lenght and angle.

I think the main problem in sorting different swords to some few meta-weapons is: DnD failed with the first set of rules for that and brought that through all their editions. They wrote longsword while meaning "a bit longer shortsword".

Hope this is of help for you.

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 04:40 AM
Afaik the Longsword was mostly used as 1-1/2-hander. I had a... let's say few connections to a local "knight-group" or something like that. I never saw one of them use their sword one handed. Never saw a shield in use there either... probably because I mostly were there for my friends and to spent time with them.


There's plenty of completely fantasy grade "knight groups" - if they didn't use shields at all, they would probably be one of them. :smallbiggrin:

Anyway,

There seems usual confusion indeed here :

In medieval Europe, "longsword" was a name for two handed sword.

Some of them were large and mostly two handed indeed, some of them could be very readily and nimbly used with one hand - to gain a bit of reach in maneuvers for example, or to have other hand free for grabbing etc.

Later ages brought the 'bastard' sword term, which is rather unclear one, but generally is used to describe such a more compact longsword that can be wielded with one hand easily.

In D&D "longsword" is one handed weapon, weapon trope including, and probably mainly based on 'Dark Age' swords and medieval one handers.


Katana is longsword equivalent in the sense that it's personal weapon meant to be used two handed/one handed in some occasions.

It's short compared to most longswords, most probably due to both smaller stature of Japanese people, and it's close quarters, compact character.

Japanese had plenty of longer nihonto as well, but katana sized ones were most popular.

There were many longswords with total lenght under one meter as well:

This one seems to be just under, with 31.5 inches blade (http://wallacelive.wallacecollection.org/eMuseumPlus?service=ExternalInterface&module=collection&objectId=60972&viewType=detailView)

Storm Bringer
2012-08-20, 05:53 AM
just to add what others have said, the weapon called a "longsword" in DnD is a much shorter weapon than the one called "Longsword in Real Life.

A DND longsword went by several names in different times and places, however, a a one handed, double edged, cut and thrust weapon, such as this one (http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/images/Arming-sword1.jpg), was known as an "Arming sword", and is the weapon which DnD calls a "longsword".

a historical longsword is a two handed weapon closer to what DnD calls a "bastard sword". they were used slightly later in the historical timeline to arming swords. Here (http://i192.photobucket.com/albums/z111/RicWilly/HanweiBastard001.jpg)is a picture of a man holding a bastard sword. note the grip is long enough to fit two hands, but the man is able to hold it comfortably in one hand.

A proper two handed sword is a weapon that was used much later in the timeline, and much bigger than a bastard sword/RL longsword, being used well into the firearms era.

a Katana, like a RL longsword/DnD bastard sword, is a two handed weapon which is used onw handed in certain moves to free up a hand for something else. I think statting it as a DnD bastard sword is quite acceptable.

Zerter
2012-08-20, 05:57 AM
Kind of a dirty question if you ask me...

Rion
2012-08-20, 06:07 AM
Also that while the Katana, is shorter than the historical longsword (bastard sword in D&D) the blade was thicker, and it weighs rougly the same as longsword (if not more). This results in the katana being about as cumbersome for onehanded use as the bastard sword, despite being shorter.

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 06:26 AM
note the grip is long enough to fit two hands, but the man is able to hold it comfortably in one hand.


Well, one can comfortably hold a child in one hand, so that's not really telling much. :smallwink:



A proper two handed sword is a weapon that was used much later in the timeline, and much bigger than a bastard sword/RL longsword, being used well into the firearms era.


Well, there were quite a few "proper" two handers before 15th century already.



Also that while the Katana, is shorter than the historical longsword (bastard sword in D&D) the blade was thicker, and it weighs rougly the same as longsword (if not more). This results in the katana being about as cumbersome for onehanded use as the bastard sword, despite being shorter.

Hard to tell, Japanese blades in museums etc. are, quite unfortunately, measured to hell and back but without weight, usually.

Anyway, there was huge variety in weights/thickness of longswords, some of them were - not so much of it in katana's case, but still some of it.

So stating that "katana blades were thicker" is not really possible, unless on some very rough "average".
Being 'cumbersome', though is not a matter that can be guessed just from weight and lenght.

Ashtagon
2012-08-20, 07:37 AM
Okay, some definition of terms is in order...

I consider an idealised "One-Handed" blade weapon to be 36" long (total length). This is what D&D called the longsword, but what real life called the arming sword in the Middle Ages, and the broadsword or basket-hilted sword in the early modern era.

An idealised "Light" blade is exactly half the length of a one-handed blade (18"). An idealised "Two-Handed" blade is exactly twice the length of a one-handed blade (72"). These correspond to the D&D short sword and great sword, respectively.

The astute reader will notice there's a logarithmic function going on here. By logarithmic maths, the mid-point between 1-H and 2-H is at 4' 2". This is what D&D calls a bastard sword, but which historically corresponds better to the longsword, which 19th century writers would refer to as the hand-and-a-half sword.

So, based on logarithm maths, I'm defining the following weapons. All later commentary in this post will use these definitions for the terms.


Knife: 8-16 cm (3" - 6") (D&D 1e and 2e only had this, where it was intended to represent kitchen utensils rather than weapons)
Dagger: 16-32 cm (6" - 1' ") (6-13")
Short Sword: 32-65 cm (1' " - 2' 1") (13-25")
Broadsword: 65-109 cm (2' 1" - 3' 6") (25-43") (D&D calls this a longsword; it was an "arming sword" in Middle Ages, and a broad sword in the early modern era)
Longsword: 109-154 cm (3' 6" - 5' ") (43-61") (D&D calls this a bastard sword)
Great Sword: 154-217 cm (5' " - 7' 1") (61-82")


Based on these ranges, even the largest historical katana are broadsword-equivalents. Yes, I am aware of the nodachi and odachi, which were indisputably great swords. And the wakizashi is indisputably a short sword.

I guess I can call the katana a broadsword, and note that some of the larger examples ("o-gatana") were functionally longswords. I guess too that because Japanese people from the Middle Ages were (and to some extent are) shorter than Europeans, a shorter blade would still remain functionally equivalent to a Western longsword in terms of combat technique, which might justify making them longswords anyway.

Which leaves the nagamaki. I think I can make this equivalent to a longsword that can only be used two-handed. The total weapon length is the same as a great sword, which gives it the same useful amount of angular momentum. But it has a shorter useful blade length, which limits it compared to a great sword.

Naginata? It's a pole weapon, with reach, despite using similar construction techniques to regular swords.

Morph Bark
2012-08-20, 07:41 AM
Given that D&D rules do allow for longswords to be used two-handed,

[citation needed]

Ashtagon
2012-08-20, 07:52 AM
[citation needed]

http://www.d20srd.org/

Base damage is same as for one-handed use, but you get 1.5 your Strength bonus instead of 1.

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 07:53 AM
Based on these ranges, even the largest historical katana are broadsword-equivalents. Yes, I am aware of the nodachi and odachi, which were indisputably great swords. And the wakizashi is indisputably a short sword.

I guess I can call the katana a broadsword, and note that some of the larger examples ("o-gatana") were functionally longswords. I guess too that because Japanese people from the Middle Ages were (and to some extent are) shorter than Europeans, a shorter blade would still remain functionally equivalent to a Western longsword in terms of combat technique, which might justify making them longswords anyway.

.

They are not 'broad sword' equivalents, and calling o-gatana functionally longsword is tricky at best.

One handed swords and later broadswords, walloon swords, schiavonas etc. can only be used with two hands in rather "improvised" manner at best, which from the very start makes them completely different from katanas.

Defining sword function by blade and overall lenght doesn't have any sense - I think that that's the whole thing about this topic.

Lenght of a sword and it's parts is important feature concerning it's handling, motion and impacts, but without tons of other aspects from weight to profile doesn't really tell much.


a shorter blade would still remain functionally equivalent to a Western longsword in terms of combat technique

Depends on what blade and what longsword. Plenty of longswords out there that would be never 'equivalent' to katana, even with exactly the same size and proportions.

Matthew
2012-08-20, 07:54 AM
Generally speaking, the Japanese long sword is two to three shaku in length, which is to say 24" to 36". Two shaku is also the minimum length for a D&D long sword from AD&D first edition onwards (presumably). Katana are typically shorter than tachi, some are indeed just cut down tachi. The hand and a half sword or what is now commonly called a "longsword" amongst enthusiasts and collectors (being perhaps the most common period term) seems to hover around 30" to 42", so I see no problem with katana being either D&D long swords or bastard swords, if the criteria is length.

Spiryt
2012-08-20, 08:06 AM
Generally speaking, the Japanese long sword is two to three shaku in length, which is to say 24" to 36". Two shaku is also the minimum length for a D&D long sword from AD&D first edition onwards (presumably). Katana are typically shorter than tachi, some are indeed just cut down tachi.

The definition I keep reading is that the only really clear differences were mountings and way of wearing them - edge upwards or downwards.

http://nihontoclub.com/glossary/types-of-swords

Other than that different lenghts/curvatures and generally distinct shapes can be seen between both 'types' from the same period.

http://nihontoclub.com/swords/0000-0636

http://nihontoclub.com/swords/0000-0039

Matthew
2012-08-20, 08:28 AM
The definition I keep reading is that the only really clear differences were mountings and way of wearing them - edge upwards or downwards.

http://nihontoclub.com/glossary/types-of-swords

Other than that different lenghts/curvatures and generally distinct shapes can be seen between both 'types' from the same period.

http://nihontoclub.com/swords/0000-0636

http://nihontoclub.com/swords/0000-0039

Yes, the definition of a tachi as opposed to a katana is based on style of wearing, but the fact remains that many tachi [i.e. older blades] were cut down to serve as katana, I have seen them in museums here in Japan and in Britain as well. It is speculated that the reason is a move from cavalry to infantry based fighting, but I doubt it is that clean cut. :smallbiggrin:

Of course, I am not knowledgeable enough on the subject to say how it was determined the blades cut down were considered tachi, maybe they were long katana cut down to serve as tachi, but I am going to give the museums the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Morph Bark
2012-08-20, 05:31 PM
http://www.d20srd.org/

Base damage is same as for one-handed use, but you get 1.5 your Strength bonus instead of 1.

I asked for a citation, as in a quote and a source for that quote, which means the exact spot to find it in. If I had asked for a citation of John 3:19, saying "the Bible" wouldn't be sufficient either.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-08-20, 05:37 PM
I asked for a citation, as in a quote and a source for that quote, which means the exact spot to find it in. If I had asked for a citation of John 3:19, saying "the Bible" wouldn't be sufficient either.

PHB 113, ".... If a one-handed weapon is weilded with two hands during melee combat, add 1-1/2 times the character's strength bonus to damage rolls."

Water_Bear
2012-08-20, 05:41 PM
I asked for a citation, as in a quote and a source for that quote, which means the exact spot to find it in. If I had asked for a citation of John 3:19, saying "the Bible" wouldn't be sufficient either.

What? Look this isn't Debate Club, look it the heck up yourself.

It is a well known rule that you can use a One Handed weapon (but not a Light weapon) with two hands to apply 150% Strength bonus to damage, as you would on a Two Handed Weapon. Saying you need to 'cite' it with exact page numbers for the PHB is as stupid as saying that you need to cite that Paladins get Smite Evil.

Don't be difficult just for the sake of it.

toapat
2012-08-20, 06:21 PM
Wikipedia says that a katana is defined by a blade at least 24" long. Add another 8" (generous) for a grip, and at 32", it's barely long enough to be classed as a longsword.

The longest modern "replica" katana I have found has a blade of 33". With grip, it comes up to 41" (estimated).

By compariosn, wikipedia identifies bastard swords as having a blade length of 39-48", plus an additional 8-11" grip, for a total length of 47-51". Wikipedia identifies longswords (in an older version of the article, before it got merged with bastard swords) as 35-36" blade length and total length 41-47"

The bastard sword is a good foot longer than the katana, which barely makes the length category for longswords.

Given that D&D rules do allow for longswords to be used two-handed, is there action any reason beyond "ethnic cool" for the weapon to be given bastard sword stats?

(please, no thread crapping with *that* post)

I would like to point out that the Wikipedia Articles were significantly revised recently for all swords, and that in doing so, the blade lengths were changed with rather significant differences and minimal citing.

either way, as has been said in the thread earlier, what makes a Katana a Bastard sword, is the Technique required to properly wield the weapon.

the way i always considered it was with a few quick rules:
Blade Length:
A Sword is an average of 27" +-3"
Add 6" for Longsword, x2 for Bastard, x3 for greatsword
subtract 6" for Shortsword, x2 for dagger, x3 for knife

TheOOB
2012-08-20, 06:26 PM
An important thing to remember is that, in real life, just because a weapon is designed for two hands, doesn't mean you keep two hands locked on the grip at all times. In real life, anything we would call a long sword is definatly a two handed weapon(in that you wouldn't hold something in your off hand, such as a shield), though they often had a one handed grip. Depending on the maneuver you are using, you may use your off hand to stabilize the sword, balance yourself, or punch someone in the face.

A sword you would use with a shield or off hand weapon would be much smaller, such as an arming sword.

Much in the same way, a katana is a two handed weapon, but both hands wouldn't necessarily be on the grip at all times. Yes a katana is notably smaller than a longsword, but there are two reasons for that. First, Japanese people tended to be smaller than European people, and second, Japan had some pretty terrible iron, and they couldn't forge a sword much larger without making it fragile. That's also where the curve comes in, straighter katana where generally considered superior, but Japan lacked the metal and smithing techniques to make straight bladed weapons that wouldn't break.

Scow2
2012-08-20, 08:06 PM
The problem with D&D is that it classified the "Longsword" and "Bastard Sword" as two different weapons, when historically they were the same thing.

Fiery Diamond
2012-08-20, 08:21 PM
A large part of the confusion that comes with all this is a simple "Research? What's that?" on the part of the people who made the D&D rules. Until I played D&D when I was in high school, I had never heard any terms regarding swords discussed (just encountered them in passing) or seen anything realistic regarding sword fights. This means my knowledge of swords was limited to what I'd read in fantasy stories and what I'd seen in games and movies. D&D just picks its own terms to use for things without regard for what they're called in real life. This only makes things worse, because it widens the gulf even further between people who know what they're talking about and people who've had the limited experience I did (e.g. most fantasy fans) because the latter group "learn" the terms D&D uses and never bother to question whether that's what they actually mean.

Falchion and longsword are the two ones that D&D gets completely wrong that I can say off the top of my head. You have people "learning" that that's what those words mean, and well, that just makes things more confusing.

I mean, when I was in grade school, I was proud of myself for knowing something esoteric like what a "cross hilt" was. Yeah. That's how badly people who are fantasy sword fanboys are educated, and it perpetuates because of the inaccuracies in media.

For example, just from myself: I hear longsword, I think arming sword (a term I just learned in this thread). I hear broadsword, I think "especially wide-bladed hand-and-a-half sword." I hear bastard sword, I think "hand-and-a-half sword that isn't as broad as a broadsword." I hear short sword, I think "sword designed primarily for stabbing that is shorter than a longsword but longer than a long-bladed dagger." I hear great sword, I think "two handed sword with total length of about 5 (give or take a little) feet." I hear claymore, I think "great sword with a wide blade and a distinctive taper."

It doesn't matter that those connections are often factually wrong, what matters is that they are supported by and perpetuated by the media consumed, which 1) gives those concepts in the first place and 2)affirms that those are the definitions. So when people who actually know what the &@#% they're talking about enter the scene, EVERYBODY ends up confused.

toapat
2012-08-20, 08:47 PM
*snip*

Falchion and Scimitar are what DnD gets completely wrong, because the Scimitar is a cavalry saber from the middle east, where as a Falchion is a Swordlike weapon with a broad, curving blade and awkward weighting.

the comparison of Longsword and Bastardsword is likewise off, because a Bastard Sword is a celtic weapon with weighting and length that made it difficult to wield as a longsword, but without the reach and foregrip of a greatsword. in the Mythbusters episode where they are testing a Katana's sharpness, Kari cant even lift the bastard sword they have.

to give a better idea: A Bastard Sword is weighted so that anyone who would normally understand how to use a one handed sword would be thrown off, a Longsword can be used effectively, but not optimally, as a 1 handed weapon without as significant a loss of control of as the bastard sword.

This also ignores the fact that the bastard sword is going to be hell to lift.

Ironlion45
2012-08-20, 11:57 PM
I think it's important to note that Katanas are, in real life, from a completely different martial tradition. We can't quantify them by the measures and standards of a completely different culture, or at least not easily.

The standard length Japanese sword is comparable to the length of a western arming sword. Though the length was very much not standardized, and varied greatly depending on both the era and the sword maker. Some had very long blades which we would think of as a long sword, though these are exceptionally uncommon

The Katina is meant to be used primarily with two hands. It is very much not advised to use one hand only. In medieval Japan, many would carry two swords for this very reason. A full sized sword, and a shorter sword that was easily used in only one hand; its shorter length offered better control and balance for single hand use, though at the expense of the weapon's reach (one of the most effective ways of not getting hit/sliced/stabbed by somebody is to have a weapon that is longer than theirs, so you can hit/slice/stab them without them being able to do the same).

In Europe, the long sword wasn't possible until the metallurgic technology had advanced to a point where very long blades could be made that were strong enough to withstand the punishment of combat (anybody who has had a sword fight with a stage sword will attest that poorly-made metal blades tend to chip, crack, and break very easily).

Thus the two-hardens like the iconic claymore weren't seen much until around the 14th century, and the same goes for the quintessential English Longsword. (Though ceremonial two-handers that were not intended for combat may have existed earlier).

The bastard sword seems to be a mis-understood and frequently misinterpreted term. In modern language, when we speak of a bastard sword, we are talking about the hand-and-a-half sword, referring to the length of the hilt. But this is only a modern use of the term.

Originally, the term "Bastard Sword" actually comes from a Medieval French word that meant "of uncertain origin", and it was a term used to describe irregular swords- that is to say a sword of unusual dimensions or proportions. To whit, the sword we now call "English Longsword" was in its day often referred to by the English as a bastard sword.

The term "Bastard Sword" later on came to refer generally to all very large swords. It was never really a specific term referring to a specific type of sword.

For the purposes of your role playing, I would suggest you treat your katanas in a way similar to how standard rules (I am unfamiliar with 4th edition so I can't sepak for them) treat a regular longsword (a D&D longsword, not a RL longsword!). Just add in significant penalties for one-handed use- probably to attack roll, damage, and speed factor.

For the record, the rules in some campaign settings, notably Forgotten Realms (at least in 2e) have actual Japanese-themed swords, as well as stats for them; one can be confident that those are play-tested to fit well with the standard D&D arsenal.

Ashtagon
2012-08-21, 02:04 AM
Kind of a dirty question if you ask me...

I don't actually have a katana, despite the thread title. Although I did go to a show once where I saw an impressive display of their use. This was followed by some men playing a pair of giant taiko drums, and several smaller ones.

This post, despite the theoretical innuendo, it being played perfectly straight. It was at a school in Japan where I used to work as a teacher. The school's kendo club held a display of 100 students in formation doing kendo drill, except because this was PTA day and H&S laws are more of a suggestion there, they used real (modern day replica) swords for the day. And the taiko drums were just that - big thunderously loud drums.

Morph Bark
2012-08-21, 02:47 AM
PHB 113, ".... If a one-handed weapon is weilded with two hands during melee combat, add 1-1/2 times the character's strength bonus to damage rolls."

Thank you.


What? Look this isn't Debate Club, look it the heck up yourself.

It is a well known rule that you can use a One Handed weapon (but not a Light weapon) with two hands to apply 150% Strength bonus to damage, as you would on a Two Handed Weapon. Saying you need to 'cite' it with exact page numbers for the PHB is as stupid as saying that you need to cite that Paladins get Smite Evil.

Don't be difficult just for the sake of it.

Get a mirror. I wasn't being difficult for the sake of it, I honestly hadn't ever seen that rule in play and thus was confused on whether it actually existed or not.

A class ability, feat, spell, power, item, race or monster is easily found due to all the databases floating around the internet, even including the wizards site itself. Minor rules such as this one don't have that.

Spiryt
2012-08-21, 04:59 AM
In Europe, the long sword wasn't possible until the metallurgic technology had advanced to a point where very long blades could be made that were strong enough to withstand the punishment of combat (anybody who has had a sword fight with a stage sword will attest that poorly-made metal blades tend to chip, crack, and break very easily).

That certainly could have been the part of it, but one handed swords with very long blades (longer than many longswords) would be made way before that.

Rise of the longsword seems to be mainly the rise of.... idea and demand for something like that.

With main users of swords being people who fought mounted - anything two handed wasn't good of first need.



Falchion and Scimitar are what DnD gets completely wrong, because the Scimitar is a cavalry saber from the middle east, where as a Falchion is a Swordlike weapon with a broad, curving blade and awkward weighting.

the comparison of Longsword and Bastardsword is likewise off, because a Bastard Sword is a celtic weapon with weighting and length that made it difficult to wield as a longsword, but without the reach and foregrip of a greatsword. in the Mythbusters episode where they are testing a Katana's sharpness, Kari cant even lift the bastard sword they have.

to give a better idea: A Bastard Sword is weighted so that anyone who would normally understand how to use a one handed sword would be thrown off, a Longsword can be used effectively, but not optimally, as a 1 handed weapon without as significant a loss of control of as the bastard sword.

This also ignores the fact that the bastard sword is going to be hell to lift.


This is complete..... nonsense. Where have you taken this from, if I may ask?

no one had ever found anything similar to this in general "Celtic finds", Celts were using light, organic hilted swords like pretty much all of Iron Age Europe (although Celts had way more/better swords than most).

Kari couldn't lift 'bastard sword' because their sword 'replicas' were mostly terrible all around. One cannot be knowlegdeable about everything...

Their 'claymore' was some clunker based on thing Mel MacGibson had wielded in "Braveheart" which is very very fictional design.

Majority of 'swords' made to look like it have even more fictional metallurgy and design.

---



I personally don't really get upset about "Falchion" though - yeah, in Medieval Europe that name meant something different, but who really cares, it's only a name.

I can name 2d4 18-20/x2 thing "two handed saber", "kriegsmesser", "katana", "chopper" or "helicopters blade" anytime I want.

Matthew
2012-08-21, 06:57 AM
The problem with D&D is that it classified the "Longsword" and "Bastard Sword" as two different weapons, when historically they were the same thing.

That is not really the problem, the issue was that post AD&D they stopped defining what they meant.



A large part of the confusion that comes with all this is a simple "Research? What's that?" on the part of the people who made the D&D rules.

That is not really true either. For the 1970s the initial research was not too bad, you have to remember that things have hugely changed in the last twenty years or so. Although some things were rectified with second edition in 1989, there was less serious research, which is observable in the Arms & Equipment Guide. With D20/3E WotC actively eschewed any sort of historical authenticity right from the start, and though the article is gone from the website now, you can probably find it on the Way Back Machine.

Kogak
2012-08-21, 07:31 AM
Yes, the definition of a tachi as opposed to a katana is based on style of wearing, but the fact remains that many tachi [i.e. older blades] were cut down to serve as katana, I have seen them in museums here in Japan and in Britain as well. It is speculated that the reason is a move from cavalry to infantry based fighting, but I doubt it is that clean cut. :smallbiggrin:

Of course, I am not knowledgeable enough on the subject to say how it was determined the blades cut down were considered tachi, maybe they were long katana cut down to serve as tachi, but I am going to give the museums the benefit of the doubt on this one.

On an only slightly related side note, I was under the impression that many longer blades were cut down to comply with a change in the laws that forbade having blades that were deemed too large and, therefore, dangerous. Many longer bladed weapons were supposedly able to cut through both man and horse on the battlefield in a cavalry charge. As I understand this was not unlike the crossbow in medieval Europe, which is to say highly frowned upon by the muckety-mucks riding said horses, and outlawed. I could be mistaken since my Japanese history is not exactly all inclusive.

On a more topic-relevant note, the blade length and even weight do not necessarily account for its striking properties and, as mentioned numerous times, should not be used as the sole basis for comparison. I do not know much about European swordsmithing, but I do know a katana is expected to have a 'soft' metal at its core to allow for flexibility, changing its properties upon impacting a hard surface.

Matthew
2012-08-21, 07:43 AM
On an only slightly related side note, I was under the impression that many longer blades were cut down to comply with a change in the laws that forbade having blades that were deemed too large and, therefore, dangerous. Many longer bladed weapons were supposedly able to cut through both man and horse on the battlefield in a cavalry charge. As I understand this was not unlike the crossbow in medieval Europe, which is to say highly frowned upon by the muckety-mucks riding said horses, and outlawed. I could be mistaken since my Japanese history is not exactly all inclusive.

Not that I have ever heard, though swords in general were banned at some point. A case in point about such misunderstandings is your mention of the crossbow ban; in fact this was a ban against all archery, not just crossbows, and part of a wider movement by the church to limit violence within Christendom, nothing to do with noble types, who happily shot crossbows at one another whenever the occasion arose.

Spiryt
2012-08-21, 07:45 AM
Many longer bladed weapons were supposedly able to cut through both man and horse on the battlefield in a cavalry charge. As I understand this was not unlike the crossbow in medieval Europe, which is to say highly frowned upon by the muckety-mucks riding said horses, and outlawed. I could be mistaken since my Japanese history is not exactly all inclusive.


Crossbow in Europe was outlawed by the pope and Church during Lateran Council in 1139, supposedly at least.

It was largely ignored by "muckety mucks" seeing huge popularity of crossbows.

In Japanese case, users of such swords, capable of such largely legendary feats like cutting man with horse, would be generically horse riding samurai as well.

Ironlion45
2012-08-21, 02:15 PM
The church's commands were usually ignored whenever inconvenient, outside of nations like France where they had significant inroads in the government. The power of the Catholic Church in medieval Europe was great, but perhaps overstated by historians.

A famous example: Richard I of England was held for for ransom by both the Duke of Austria and the Holy Roman Emperor; Both were excommunicated by the Pope, but that proved to be no deterrent to them, who eventually used the ransom money(which amounted to something like the entire GDP of England for half a year) to found a new city.

Ashtagon
2012-08-21, 02:47 PM
That is not really the problem, the issue was that post AD&D they stopped defining what they meant.

Now you made me go look. Here's how the 1e PHB defines the relevant swords:



Sword, Short: includes all pointed cutting & thrusting weapons with blade length between 15 and 24.
Sword, Broad: no description
Sword, Long: no description
Sword, Bastard: no description
Sword, Two-handed: no description



Unearthed Arcana adds the falchion and khopesh to the sword list, with about as much description.

The 2e PHB goes into a bit more detail...


Sword, Short: no description
Sword, Broad: no description
Sword, Long: no description
Sword, Bastard: This sword is similar to a long sword in size and weight, but has a longer hilt. It can be used one- or two-handed. Use the speed factor and damage appropriate to the grip. If it is used two-handed, your character cannot employ a shield.
Sword, Two-handed: no description
Sword, Khopesh: This is an Egyptian weapon. A khopesh has about six inches of handle and quillons. Its blade is then straight from the quillons for about two feet. The blade becomes sickle-shaped at this point, being about two additional feet long but effectively extending the overall length of the sword by only 1 feet. This makes the khopesh both heavy and unwieldy, difficult to employ properly, and slow to recover, particularly after a badly missed blow. Its sickle-like portion can snag an opponent or an opposing weapon.



Frankly, I think 3e players are quite well-off in terms of rulebooks describing their weapons.

Finally, the 2e Arms & Equipment Guide might be expected to go into detail. And it does. But it's not exactly common in most gamer libraries.

Some excerpts, because that's a huge amount of text, and I'm not going to lift it all.


...The term short sword does not exist in sword classifications. However, it has come to be used to describe a double-edged blade about two feet in length...

...These swords [longswords] are usually referred to as double-edged swords, war swords, or military swords... ...is their length, which ranges from 35 inches to 47 inches. In the latter case, the blade is known to take up 40 inches of the total length...

...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 overall length of the bastard sword ranges between four feet and four feet ten inches.

...An average two-handed sword measures five to six feet in length...


To be fair, they do say the D&D longsword can only be used in one hand, a common-sense rule that 3e overturned. But it seems reasonably clear, as of 1991 when A&EG was published, that the D&D longsword was meant to be the RL arming sword.

Zombimode
2012-08-21, 03:17 PM
The 2e PHB goes into a bit more detail...


Hm. I guess it differs from printing to printing. I have a fairly late german printing of the 2e PHB, and it has MUCH more detail on the different sword types.

KillianHawkeye
2012-08-21, 04:23 PM
It's not the size that counts. It's how you use it. :smallwink:

Ashtagon
2012-08-21, 05:30 PM
It's not the size that counts. It's how you use it. :smallwink:

Obvious joke has been done already (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13762692&postcount=30).

Matthew
2012-08-21, 09:35 PM
Now you made me go look. Here's how the 1e PHB defines the relevant swords:



Sword, Short: includes all pointed cutting & thrusting weapons with blade length between 15 and 24.
Sword, Broad: no description
Sword, Long: no description
Sword, Bastard: no description
Sword, Two-handed: no description




You are not looking hard enough, all of those weapons have length designations and space to use in the weapon type versus armour table. Here are their lengths:

Short Sword: c. 24"
Long Sword: c. 42"
Broad Sword: c. 42"
Bastard Sword: c. 54"
Two-Handed Sword: c. 72"

Presumably this includes the hilt, of course.

Ironlion45
2012-08-22, 03:54 AM
Obvious joke has been done already (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13762692&postcount=30).

Somewhere in the world, someone is leaving an opening for this joke right now, and thus somewhere in the world someone is repeating this joke once again.

All this has happened before, and will happen again.

KillianHawkeye
2012-08-22, 07:49 AM
Obvious joke has been done already (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=13762692&postcount=30).

Similar, but not the same joke by a long stretch. Specifically, mine was more topical.

Exediron
2012-08-22, 02:47 PM
How long is your Katana? I don't know, but both of mine measure 42" from end to end - 30" blade and 12" hilt. Both weigh slightly over 2 pounds. One is a straight Katana, the other is the traditional curved blade. As far as I'm aware, the standard length - to the extent that such a thing may be said to exist - for a Katana was 42".

The Katana is very definitely a primary two-handed weapon, but there are forms for using it one-handed, and some real-life Samurai are said to have used two at the same time. In my experience, the Katana is both shorter and lighter than most equivalent European weapons.

As far as the comparison to longswords, I don't have anything to add. 'Longsword' in medieval sword terminology refers to a different weapon than 'Longsword' in D&D terminology, as others have pointed out.

EDIT on Katana weights: 2.5 lb and 2.6 lb, actually.

Zerter
2012-08-23, 08:11 AM
It's not the size that counts. It's how you use it.

What a lame attempt to derail this thread, what kind of person makes these kind of jokes!

Sturmcrow
2012-08-23, 08:56 AM
By the late 16th century, the average length returned to approximately 73 cm (28 in.).

From wikipedia, matches what I know about them.

I think it has been said before but people need to understand, on average people in Japan are shorter than Europeans and still were back then, therefore their main sword was designed to be appropriately sized for them. The reason D&D uses the bastard sword even though it is not in any way analogous is probably because it already includes rules for 1hand versus 2hand AND because western culture has elevated Katanas to a mystical level.

Katanas are used two handed because it gives you much greater leverage and control.

Matthew
2012-08-23, 10:42 AM
I think it has been said before but people need to understand, on average people in Japan are shorter than Europeans and still were back then, therefore their main sword was designed to be appropriately sized for them.

Whilst the size of the wielder does factor into things, it is not sufficient to explain a discrepancy of six inches and more. Given that the average blade lengths went up and down, it is much more feasible that length was tied to mode of use. After all, it is not like the jian in Ancient China was significantly shorter than contemporary blades in the west.

Sturmcrow
2012-08-23, 11:40 AM
I would beg to differ, the jian had variable lengths but on average is shorter than the main one handed weapons use by northern Europeans. The size of the wielder is important. But, I do agree that fighting styles will also have an effect on size of a weapon.


Funny enough, longswords are defined in D&D as one handed weapons whereas they were synonymous with the weapon most people imagine when a gamer talks about a Bastard sword.

There are manuscripts which show fighting styles using the longsword one handed or two handed but swords classified in that category are much larger than the historical Katana.

Most Katanas produced to be sold as displays, probably especially in America, are often sold in a size that is appealing to Western buyers.

Spiryt
2012-08-23, 11:46 AM
Katanas might be short, but not that *small* compared to most European two handed single-edged sword, for example.

They just have pretty much unique shape, with blade that's short, often relatively narrow, but it tappers very little until almost very end, so it's thick.

And actual taper to the point happen over at most few inches of kissaki.

Really not much (any?) of such designs elsewhere.

Of course it will vary hugely, and it's better to avoid generalization, but generally messers/sabers and so on wouldn't be 4 mm and more thick just inches from the point.

Matthew
2012-08-23, 11:46 AM
I would beg to differ, the jian had variable lengths but on average is shorter than the main one handed weapons use by northern Europeans. The size of the wielder is important. But, I do agree that fighting styles will also have an effect on size of a weapon.

Ancient China I have in mind here, not medieval China. As far as I have ever seen they are very similar lengths to the sorts of blades being used by Romans, Greeks, Spaniards, Gauls, and Germans. It would be interesting to see some actual data on this, though the extant blades are unlikely to provide much definitive information. To put it another way, the Spartans apparently used excessively short blades compared to their fellows, and that had nothing to do with their height and everything to do with their mode of fighting.

Morph Bark
2012-08-23, 12:16 PM
And here I thought the shorter blades of earlier eras had mainly to do with the less advanced techniques in mettalurgy.

Spiryt
2012-08-23, 12:26 PM
And here I thought the shorter blades of earlier eras had mainly to do with the less advanced techniques in mettalurgy.

There' may be some truth to it, I guess but generally metallurgy of some Celtic etc. tribes didn't have to differ all that much from metallurgy of French people in 13th century...

Post-medieval economics and discoveries brought big changes in metal productions.

Other than that technologies might have been very well more advanced in antiquity, seeing number of pattern welded and similarly intricate techniques. :smallwink:

Many late La Tene sword were very long one handers for example, early Roman swords were pretty decently sized, before got shorter from tactical reasons, most apparently.

Then they got longer towards the end of Rome, obviously, but that's obviously long stories here.

Dacians had their large two handed choppers, and so on.

Ironlion45
2012-08-23, 11:42 PM
Nonetheless, even with discrepancies, for the purpose of role play it's generally worked well to treat Japanese swords as their standard D&D equivalents.

Daito, katana, wakizashi, and tanto have been established in RP games for a reason. They can easily be made to correspond with the standard RPG Two-hander, "longsword", short sword, and dagger respectively.

This works best because it works with rules that are already-balanced. If you must have some variation, make these weapons both slightly lighter and slightly faster than their European cognates.

Ashtagon
2012-08-23, 11:54 PM
I think I'm going to go with the following:

(nb. I have a house rule that severely limits the damage bonus from Strength, and Power Attack especially. 2h weapons get a step up in damage to partially compensate)

short sword: 1d6
broad ("arming") sword: 1d8, one-handed use only
long sword: 1d10, or 1d12 when two-handed
great sword: 2d8, 2h only (or whatever the next damage step up from 1d12 is)

wakizashi: 1d6
katana: 1d8, or 1d10 when used two-handed
nodachi/oodachi: as great sword

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-25, 12:39 AM
Katanas are really sharp.

Longswords were relatively dull (you used the weigh to cut not the edge and they were not sturdy enough to hold an edge).

You generally used a katana in both hands (though the famed Japanese swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi said that it should be wielded one handed, but he was a dissenting minority, even if his reputation might lay credence to that claim) and it is a masterfully crafted blade that can split hairs in two and cut people with little effort. You'd be lucky to even be able to shave with a longsword.

That being said, doesn't 1d10 make more sense than 1d8?

Also look up an odachi, which is a long katana. 6570 inches, blade and hilt. Usually the blade was 48 and 60 inches, roughly bastard sword length.

Ashtagon
2012-08-25, 12:48 AM
Katanas are really sharp.

Longswords were relatively dull (you used the weigh to cut not the edge and they were not sturdy enough to hold an edge).

As others have noted, beyond a certain point, more sharpness doesn't really benefit a sword, no matter what the technique used in wielding it.


You generally used a katana in both hands (though the famed Japanese swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi said that it should be wielded one handed, but he was a dissenting minority, even if his reputation might lay credence to that claim) and it is a masterfully crafted blade that can split hairs in two and cut people with little effort. You'd be lucky to even be able to shave with a longsword.

That being said, doesn't 1d10 make more sense than 1d8?


You're saying it's usually wielded in two hands and does 1d10 damage. And if you read through my last post, that is exactly what it does do when wielded two-handed. I'm not clear on your point here.



Also look up an odachi, which is a long katana. 6570 inches, blade and hilt. Usually the blade was 48 and 60 inches, roughly bastard sword length.

An odachi is not a katana, in the same way that a longsword is not an arming sword. They might be made in a similar fashion, but the scale makes them functionally different weapons.

Spiryt
2012-08-25, 04:59 AM
Katanas are really sharp.

Longswords were relatively dull (you used the weigh to cut not the edge and they were not sturdy enough to hold an edge).

You generally used a katana in both hands (though the famed Japanese swordmaster Miyamoto Musashi said that it should be wielded one handed, but he was a dissenting minority, even if his reputation might lay credence to that claim) and it is a masterfully crafted blade that can split hairs in two and cut people with little effort. You'd be lucky to even be able to shave with a longsword.


You can also perform origami and folk artisctic papercuts with katana while being blind folded.

Longswords used weight and were not sturdy because they were just flattened tractor axle.





:smallwink:

SiuiS
2012-08-25, 05:10 AM
Wikipedia says that a katana is defined by a blade at least 24" long. Add another 8" (generous) for a grip, and at 32", it's barely long enough to be classed as a longsword.

The longest modern "replica" katana I have found has a blade of 33". With grip, it comes up to 41" (estimated).

By compariosn, wikipedia identifies bastard swords as having a blade length of 39-48", plus an additional 8-11" grip, for a total length of 47-51". Wikipedia identifies longswords (in an older version of the article, before it got merged with bastard swords) as 35-36" blade length and total length 41-47"

The bastard sword is a good foot longer than the katana, which barely makes the length category for longswords.

Given that D&D rules do allow for longswords to be used two-handed, is there action any reason beyond "ethnic cool" for the weapon to be given bastard sword stats?

(please, no thread crapping with *that* post)

Specifically because the bastard sword, colloquially, is a swor that defaults to two hands but can be used in one with training. There are also a slew of RL weapons all generally in the same category. Daikatana for instance.


http://www.bugei.com/LongTsuka.html
http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/archive/index.php/t-46064.html

Between the photos and the statement that the tsuka (grip) is typically 1/3 blade length and not long enough for a third hand to grip the tsuka, that brings the range to 32-37" for historical katana, and 44" for that reproduction blade. Which still makes it a short longsword.

hmm.

My iaito has a 2.6 shaku blade, and is purposefully short. The length of the blade 'shrinks' the better you get with the sword (that is, you can handle a longer one with the same ease). That puts the whole weapon at about 42".

My long sword (Viking replica) is only about 36"-38" long, and is difficult for me to use with one hand as intended. If the handle were longer, to accommodate an extra hand or give me better leverage (or if I didn't have weak wrists) it would be easier to use but change the dynamic of how it works.

A D&D long sword is historically an arming sword or broadsword. A D&D greatsword would be more like a claymore or langenschwert(?). Which is really hilarious, because German linseed fighting is some I the most graceful work I've seen, and everyone expects CONAN SLASH! When they hear greatsword. Terrible really.

TheOOB
2012-08-25, 05:17 AM
Katanas are really sharp.

Longswords were relatively dull (you used the weigh to cut not the edge and they were not sturdy enough to hold an edge).

That is, to a point, absolutely wrong. The blade of a katana was very sharp, being made by a master sword smith, but it was also brittle and would chip easily. Considering metal armor was quite rare in japan, and most mass combat was fought with polearms, this wasn't a huge issue.

The sharpness of a longsword could vary. If they wanted to, a good European smith could have made a way sharper sword than a Japanese katana. They had way better metal, and far more cultures worth of knowledge to draw upon. Here's the deal though. Metal was cheap in Europe, so a lot of swords were made, most of them not by master smiths. Good metal was rare in Japan, so Katana were only made by master smiths.

So yes, the "average" European sword is less sharp than a katana, but a good European sword would be better than a good katana.

The sharpness of a sword depended on it's use. Harder metal can have a sharper edge, but it is more likely to dull or break if it hits a hard surface. Softer metal holds a duller edge, but is far less likely to break. Since many European forces were armored, a dull sword that wouldn't break would usually be superior.

The thing with swords is that they don't always fall into specific categories as we'd like. Even in Japan, which was fairly rigid and ceramonial in their sword designs, there is debate as to the exact differences between a Tachi and a Katana. Longsword is an overly broad term that only really had meaning in the modern age. It could really refer to any sword with a blade over 2 feet in length.

Lictor of Thrax
2012-08-25, 06:00 AM
When I was training Ken-Jutsu, my training swords had an overall length of 40 inches, with hilt from 10 to 12 inches. Senior instructors katanas were similar in size. Some techniques actually required grabbing hilt of your opponents sword between his hands, so hilts were definitely longer than 8 inches.

Yeah, the 8 inch hilt thing is totally off. Katanas, when wielded two-handed, are gripped with the hands at least 3 or four inches apart. They're not held like baseball bats.

Spiryt
2012-08-25, 06:01 AM
.

My long sword (Viking replica) is only about 36"-38" long, and is difficult for me to use with one hand as intended. If the handle were longer, to accommodate an extra hand or give me better leverage (or if I didn't have weak wrists) it would be easier to use but change the dynamic of how it works.



Are you sure it's anyway plausible replica?

For quick check, Deepeka still offers almost 4 pounds sword that's 4.2 mm thich all around, meter long, and has point of balance 10 inches away from guard.

So indeed unwieldy to the limit.



So yes, the "average" European sword is less sharp than a katana, but a good European sword would be better than a good katana.

The sharpness of a sword depended on it's use. Harder metal can have a sharper edge, but it is more likely to dull or break if it hits a hard surface. Softer metal holds a duller edge, but is far less likely to break. Since many European forces were armored, a dull sword that wouldn't break would usually be superior.

Many Japanese forces were armored as well, and never had yet seen any plausible data about more or less percentage of people being able to afford metal armor...

Similarly, swords sharpness is hardly synonymous with "better".



Metal was cheap in Europe

Eh, when and where? And what metal? In any case it became really cheap in 20th century, probably.

Ironlion45
2012-08-25, 11:58 PM
The sharpness of a sword depended on it's use. Harder metal can have a sharper edge, but it is more likely to dull or break if it hits a hard surface. Softer metal holds a duller edge, but is far less likely to break. Since many European forces were armored, a dull sword that wouldn't break would usually be superior.


You hinted at, but slightly missed a minor point with this- When we talk about a "Katana", we're talking about an extremely specific style that is fairly consistent for... centuries really. That is because the role and purpose of the sword did not change much in Japan until the 19th century.

When we talk about a "sword" in Europe, what we are really talking about is a process of evolution resulting both from technological improvements and a long-term arms race. Early swords came in two flavors--the ones depending on weight and momentum, usually seen among Germanic/Celtic peoples in Europe, and the shorter and carbon steel blades used most famously by the Romans. They served different purposes!

A high-carbon blade tempered for hardness is brittle, but will hold a wicked edge that will wear much more slowly. Sometimes a blow can shatter it almost like glass. Most of the time, European swordmakers preferred to a steel with a higher overall tensile strength- not only because it was more sturdy with use, but because it was cheaper to make in quantity and easier to sharpen and maintain. They dulled faster, but still were usually quite sharp when properly maintained.

The "Katana" as we know it, refers to the swords of the Elite in Japan. Only someone with status and money...a Samurai...was likely to have a good sword. they held an almost spiritual significance. These were people that would write love poems about their swords, without it being metaphorical. They would sleep with their swords and make their wives stay in another room. Finicky maintenance would have been performed with both great care and great affection. As you point out, they weren't likely at all to be used against someone wearing metal armor. So the swords were more 'artisinal'.

The Katana uses a peculiar technique of metal folded numerous times, to build up a series of layers that allow it to have a very hard edge, but also be fairly forgiving when it comes to chipping and/or breaking. They were invariably tested heavily before ever being owned by a warrior (the cadaver test being the most well-known). This allowed for a stronger blade. Another particular innovation was the one that gives katanas their iconic temper line, or hamon, that results from tempering only the edge of the blade- leaving the remainder of the blade a more flexible metal with higher tensile strength. This serves to provide the best of both worlds for Japanese swords. The downside of this technique is a single sword could take a very, very long time to make.

This is not a problem in a place where they are generally only owned by the Elites, but in Europe they were hardly so exclusive (though you still won't see peasant militia with many swords among them), and so you weren't likely to see such painstaking attention to detail. But similar techniques, such as those seen in the very fine Japanese swords, came into widespread use later on, as industrial processes emerged in Europe making it possible to do things like this on a wider scale.

Spiryt
2012-08-26, 04:58 AM
Early swords came in two flavors--the ones depending on weight and momentum, usually seen among Germanic/Celtic peoples in Europe, and the shorter and carbon steel blades used most famously by the Romans. They served different purposes!



Celtic and Germanic blades didn't 'depend on weight and momentum" any more than Greek swords, Roman swords, Iberian swords or any other for that matter.

Dunno where it comes from. Particularly Germanic tribes were not exactly rich with metal artifacts, so wouldn't use more steel for something than absolutely necessary. :smallconfused:

They were all coming in different lengths, shapes and designs, but all served similar purpose, in general.




The Katana uses a peculiar technique of metal folded numerous times, to build up a series of layers that allow it to have a very hard edge, but also be fairly forgiving when it comes to chipping and/or breaking.



Metal folded numerous times had absolutely nothing to do with hardness of the edge or anything else. Dunno how should it.:smallconfused:

It was technique of making billets of fairly homogeneous steel, from small, contaminated and chaotic bits of iron.


Another particular innovation was the one that gives katanas their iconic temper line, or hamon, that results from tempering only the edge of the blade- leaving the remainder of the blade a more flexible metal with higher tensile strength.

Hamon wasn't any "innovation" it is visual effect of differential tempering made in specific way.

Differential tempering was being performed all around the world, some of the Roman swords even have tiny little 'hamon' as well, for example.

Ashtagon
2012-08-26, 06:15 AM
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Katanas_are_Underpowered_in_d20

:smallannoyed:

Can we quit with the debates over sharpness, manufacture technique, ore quality, moustache length of the craftsman, and other friperies, and get back to the core question of katana length (by which I mean those weapons that were specifically called katana in contemporary texts, not generic Japanese style swords of any lengths).

Spiryt
2012-08-26, 06:21 AM
Can we quit with the debates over sharpness, manufacture technique, ore quality, moustache length of the craftsman, and other friperies, and get back to the core question of katana length (by which I mean those weapons that were specifically called katana in contemporary texts, not generic Japanese style swords of any lengths).

What about it, though?

Most had been said already, katana's are generally differently built, compared to most two handed sabers, messers, and other European weapons they're most similar too.


http://nihontoclub.com/swords?order=field_sword_type_value&sort=asc&smith_search=&mei_type=All&moe_rating=All

Quite a big database of authentic swords blade lengths (with some more stats from time to time).

gkathellar
2012-08-26, 07:35 AM
Oh man, I'm late to the party.

Spiryt is pretty much right about everything. You can't make sweeping generalizations about what a sword "is" based strictly on length. And honestly, D&D's weapon system (like most weapon systems) is already so abstract and borderline nonsensical that the assignment of any particular weapon to any particular category is almost totally arbitrary.


Yes, the definition of a tachi as opposed to a katana is based on style of wearing, but the fact remains that many tachi [i.e. older blades] were cut down to serve as katana, I have seen them in museums here in Japan and in Britain as well. It is speculated that the reason is a move from cavalry to infantry based fighting, but I doubt it is that clean cut. :smallbiggrin:

It has to do with the end of the Sengoku period. When Hideyoshi unified Japan, he took several important steps in formalizing the Samurai caste, which until then had been much more fluid Hideyoshi himself had been born a peasant. Not only did he tie status strictly to blood heritage, he also standardized blade length and the whole concept of the daisho (the katana and wakizashi as a pair and caste-mark), with specific designations to swords of specific length. Of course, this wasn't an instantaneous transition, but it was assisted by the mostly-peaceful nature of the Edo period, in which a warrior was more likely to find himself fighting indoors and in other civilian situations where a longer blade (and one slower on the draw) would have been inappropriate.

Ashtagon
2012-08-26, 07:43 AM
Just so I'm clear on it, is the katana better or worse for being crafted by a guy with a long moustache?

toapat
2012-08-26, 09:26 AM
Just so I'm clear on it, is the katana better or worse for being crafted by a guy with a long moustache?

The Forging Process is made more awesome because of the moustache

doesnt actually make the Techniques superior to how in the 9 hells did they forge Damacus steel

cfalcon
2012-08-26, 01:19 PM
It's ironic that bastard swords and katanas ever had the same stats- the bastard sword (German Long Sword) is just about the only period Euro weapon we have documentation on how to use (Western Martial Arts is recreating this art as best as is possible in the modern day)- and the Katana still has several Japanese Sword Arts that trace lineage back to historical use. And of course, they are used differently, have different sizes, the cuts taught are pretty different, etc.


So no, they shouldn't have the same stats, and in my games they don't- but beware, it's hard to pick stats that actually result in balanced weapons. This is a game mechanical issue mostly, but it's fair to say that both of these weapons have great pedigree and historical deadliness, so neither should dominate the other. At the very least the katana should have been placed where the "falchion" was, but the numbers don't let it work out exactly (if you have a 2d4 18-20 weapon, that's substantially better than a 1d10 19-20 weapon), as the falchion wasn't two handed anyway. The bigger issue is that everything with a curve scales to awesomesauce EXCEPT the katana, because it gets the higher crit rate. If you add this to the katana, be sure that the non-curved weapons get some love- and honestly, they need some anyway.

Spiryt
2012-08-26, 02:37 PM
It's ironic that bastard swords and katanas ever had the same stats- the bastard sword (German Long Sword) is just about the only period Euro weapon we have documentation on how to use (Western Martial Arts is recreating this art as best as is possible in the modern day)-


Eh, we have manuals and other interesting stuff for daggers, one handed swords, poleaxes, spears, and so on... Many weapons can be guessed from those as well.

So we don't really have only the stuff about longswords, and certainly not only about German ones.

Ironlion45
2012-08-27, 01:46 AM
http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Katanas_are_Underpowered_in_d20

:smallannoyed:

Can we quit with the debates over sharpness, manufacture technique, ore quality, moustache length of the craftsman, and other friperies, and get back to the core question of katana length (by which I mean those weapons that were specifically called katana in contemporary texts, not generic Japanese style swords of any lengths).

It is in fact well known that the mustache length of the early Germanic swordsmith was significantly longer than that found in any other culture worldwide. :thog:

as to "Katanas are underpowerd", That's an irritating complaint when dealing with the meta rules. Everybody has their favorites or their obsessions, or how they think it ought to be (it is the worst when bookmakers have them), but they all have to play nice with each other in the overall rule set.

If you're running an all Japanese (or at least Nipponesque) campaign, you probably don't have to worry about how a katana stacks against a bastard sword. You just have to balance it against the challenges that characters face, and the abilities of other players in the party.

Which is why I suggested before just taking and making it a copy of the bog standard dagger, short sword, long sword (or bastard, if you prefer), and two-hander. Then you know that it will fit well, or at least comparably well to all the other core rules.

Splatbooks of course will change (read mess up) all of that.

Matthew
2012-08-27, 05:43 AM
It has to do with the end of the Sengoku period. When Hideyoshi unified Japan, he took several important steps in formalizing the Samurai caste, which until then had been much more fluid Hideyoshi himself had been born a peasant. Not only did he tie status strictly to blood heritage, he also standardized blade length and the whole concept of the daisho (the katana and wakizashi as a pair and caste-mark), with specific designations to swords of specific length. Of course, this wasn't an instantaneous transition, but it was assisted by the mostly-peaceful nature of the Edo period, in which a warrior was more likely to find himself fighting indoors and in other civilian situations where a longer blade (and one slower on the draw) would have been inappropriate.

Right, that is where the strict definitions came from, but the shortening of longer blades was going on before that.

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-28, 03:53 PM
As others have noted, beyond a certain point, more sharpness doesn't really benefit a sword, no matter what the technique used in wielding it.

NO. Sharpness is very effective to the use of a sword. But most swords are not made to THEMSELVES handle sharpness. They either can't hold an edge or they break. Sharpen a longsword to the keenness of a katana, it will cut way better. However, it will snap in half the moment it comes into contact with another weapon. A katana can have in excess of 1600 parallel layers of steel in the blade. It can HOLD a keen edge, which is why it can cut through anything but plate armor like butter.


You're saying it's usually wielded in two hands and does 1d10 damage. And if you read through my last post, that is exactly what it does do when wielded two-handed. I'm not clear on your point here.

The above being said, the point of them choosing to make a katana have the stats of a bastard sword has really nothing with similarities between the weapons (beside the fact that they both are usually wielded in two hands but can also be wielded in two). The difference is that a katana is a SUPERIOR weapon. It's sharper and its stronger, and it is capable of doing a whole lot more damage to a person than a longsword ever could.

With a katana and the right technique, you can cut straight through an unarmored target at the waist. You CANNOT do that with a longsword.
The difference is QUALITY, not similarity.


An odachi is not a katana, in the same way that a longsword is not an arming sword. They might be made in a similar fashion, but the scale makes them functionally different weapons.

Incorrect. An odachi is wielded the same way a katana is, minus one handed. But other than that it is identical in technique because it is simply a larger katana.





The moral of the story: katanas, while similar in dimensions to longswords, are superior quality weapons capable of doing superior damage, therefore they are given statistics which reflect this superiority.
*End of thread*

TuggyNE
2012-08-28, 04:03 PM
The moral of the story: katanas, while similar in dimensions to longswords, are superior quality weapons capable of doing superior damage, therefore they are given statistics which reflect this superiority.

This would have been vastly more entertaining if you hadn't been upstaged by a previous poster linking to 1d4chan's meme collection on the subject.

Zombimode
2012-08-28, 04:59 PM
A katana can have in excess of 1600 parallel layers of steel in the blade. It can HOLD a keen edge, which is why it can cut through anything but plate armor like butter.[...]

It's sharper and its stronger, and it is capable of doing a whole lot more damage to a person than a longsword ever could.

With a katana and the right technique, you can cut straight through an unarmored target at the waist. You CANNOT do that with a longsword.[...]

The moral of the story: katanas, while similar in dimensions to longswords, are superior quality weapons capable of doing superior damage, therefore they are given statistics which reflect this superiority.

:smallsigh:
Ok, let take this seriously. Do you have anything to back up these claims? Any evidence?

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-28, 06:16 PM
:smallsigh:
Ok, let take this seriously. Do you have anything to back up these claims? Any evidence?

I MAKE katanas as a hobby.

If it can cut through a pig carcass (which mine have) it can cut through a person.

The Glyphstone
2012-08-28, 06:43 PM
I MAKE katanas as a hobby.

If it can cut through a pig carcass (which mine have) it can cut through a person.

Yeah, but can you bisect a knight wearing full plate with a simple vertical slash?

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-28, 06:50 PM
This would have been vastly more entertaining if you hadn't been upstaged by a previous poster linking to 1d4chan's meme collection on the subject.

I've made no claim of that magnitude or ridiculousness, so don't even go there.

Katana are definitely superior to European longswords, which are really just sharpened clubs. We in the modern day have this strange notion that European swords are made with the primary purpose of cutting. European swords were made to kill people and to survive long campaigns, how was up to the wielder. They are durable and heavy, but they cannot hold an edge. They weren't meant to, as an edge would make them fragile. They were meant to be just sharp enough that their weight could force the blade through the target, as well as sharp enough that they could impale a target. They need not be very sharp to do both those things.

A katana is made of far superior materials. Its made of higher quality steel which has been worked to remove as much impurities as possible, and is made in a way (folded so that there are thousands of parallel layers that run the length of the blade to give it strength) that makes it far more durable than a European longsword as well as more capable of holding an edge without uncompromising the integrity of the blade. They are a higher quality weapon by the nature of how they are forged and the materials they are made of. And they are made that way to fulfill a purpose, which is a cutting weapon.

I feel like the OP is caught up on the length, when the length of the weapon has nothing to do with its classification. It's classified based on how much damage it can do and roughly on how it is wielded.

Why wouldn't a katana do more damage than a longsword if it is the same length and higher quality with a sharp but more durable blade?
To me, it should be a question of damage and style and not of length.

Katanas are superior weapons to a longsword. That's not just some nerd fantasy or an exaggeration. They are just MADE better.

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-28, 06:51 PM
Yeah, but can you bisect a knight wearing full plate with a simple vertical slash?

I never made that claim. I said unarmored target.
A longsword couldn't either.

toapat
2012-08-29, 02:06 AM
A katana is made of far superior materials. Its made of higher quality steel -/- They are just MADE better.

not really, its pretty well known that a Katana is a well made weapon, but that the ore, the refinement techniques, the metal, were all of lower quality then would be expected if forged in Europe at the same time. That is why so much work had to be put into swords in Japan. The blades as a result were incredibly strong on a plane which passes through the edge, but you cant block with the weapon. You had to deflect incoming strikes or catch them in Jitte because they would snap if they took a blow directly because of their by design Brittleness. It's a well known fact that a broken sword is irreparable.

one advantage of the socalled "Sharpened Bludgeon" is that it can hold up, blow after blow, going through heavy armor. Blades Chip, doesnt matter how high quality you make them, getting that cutting edge sharp enough to divide, but blunt enough to hold up, is much better for armored combat because they dont wear down, and they are less liable to splinter on impact. A Blade is only as useful as a slashing weapon because of the completeness of it's cutting edge. On the other hand, where as a Katana is a narrow blade, a Longsword is a very wide, thick blade, able to take blows more effectively then a Katana.

If we were to compare the armor of a Samurai to that of a Knight, you would see that the Samurai is wearing Splint chain armor (If that, the best ive been able to find information on is flat linked chainmail, a very open Chainmail pattern), where as a Knight stands tall in his Walking Steel Coffin of armor, which itself hides at the very least a layer of Padded armor, if not also a layer of full chainmail containing Pleated link formations, which provide more significant protection then the open flat linked chain.

The weapons needed to get through the armor of the Knight's thick and ablative armor are either weapons able to withstand significant abuse, such as Western Longswords, or more prefferably, a Warhammer to open that armor like a tin can. The Katana would typically either become lodged inside the armor, or shatter on impact during a swing because of its incredibly brittle nature. The only way the Samurai gets through is with a very slow and obvious stabbing attack.
The Samurai? his armor relies on Deflection of swift blows delivered by a light weapon, A Longsword is going to rip right through his armor and reduce him to a pile of gore.


If we are talking Lethality: There is no point you want something to go for lethality. Killing someone takes more effort then maiming them, and as Science Fiction has taught quite well: Killing a man removes one person from the battle, Maiming a man removes him, the people who carries him off the field, and the medics.

Matthew
2012-08-29, 02:47 AM
This thread is getting crazier by the post. A katana is just a sword, some of them were rubbish and some of them were very high quality; unsurprisingly so were swords produced in Europe. Neither is by any means generally superior, nor should we imagine that the degree of sharpness was always significantly different. In no way are either well suited to hacking or stabbing through plate armour.

Also, as a hobby, I travel through time and observe warfare through the ages.

TuggyNE
2012-08-29, 02:47 AM
Katana are definitely superior to European longswords, which are really just sharpened clubs.

*popcorn glee*

Deadmeat.GW
2012-08-29, 03:17 AM
Anyone wonder if we are not deliberately being trolled by someone here?

I LOVE the sharpened clubs jibe, obviously that is true since ALL swordss in Europe must be like an inch or so think...

Boot, do we need to post some pictures of clubs to show you why your statement is soo fantastically wrong and out there?

As a beside from a site that is to be taken with some consideration but in general has some decent basic information:

Traditional lore

Many legends surround Japanese swords, the most frequent being that the blades are folded an immense number of times, gaining magical properties in the meantime. While blades folded hundreds, thousands, or even millions of times are encountered in fiction, there is no record of real blades being folded more than around 20 times. With each fold made by the maker, every internal layer is also folded, and so the total number of layers in a sword blade is doubled at each fold; since the thickness of a katana blade is less than 230 iron atoms, going beyond 20 folds no longer adds meaningfully to the number of layers in the blade. Folding a blade only 10 times will therefore create 1024 layers; 20 times will create 1,048,576 layers.

Furthermore, while heating and folding serves to even out the distribution of carbon throughout the blade, a small amount of carbon is also 'burnt out' of the steel in this process; repeated folding will eventually remove most of the carbon, turning the material into softer iron and reducing its ability to hold a sharp edge. This can be combated with carburization, though it does not produce even carbon distribution, partially defeating the purpose of folding.

Some swords were reputed to reflect their creators' personalities. Those made by Muramasa had a reputation for violence and bloodshed,[1] while those made by Masamune were considered weapons of peace. A popular legend tells of what happens when two swords made by Muramasa and Masamune were held in a stream carrying fallen lotus petals: while those leaves touching the Muramasa blade were cut in two, those coming towards the Masamune suddenly changed course and went around the blade without touching it.

Kusanagi (probably a tsurugi, a type of Bronze Age sword which precedes the Katana by centuries) is the most famous legendary sword in Japanese mythology[citation needed], involved in several folk stories. Along with the Jewel and the Mirror, it was one of the three godly treasures of Japan. A common misconception is that Katanas magically sprung into existence in Japan, utterly isolated from the mainland. The technique of folding steel came from the manufacture of the Dao in China, and contact with the mainland would affect how the katana evolved through the centuries. The katana design itself was developed over hundreds of years and the katana design was a development of the Tatchi.


Over 1600 layers...not really that exceptional lets be honest yes?
That is what, like 10.2 folds?

A rather peculiar way of working, stopping through a folding.

And yes, that is just from Wiki.
Just check the links at the bottom of the stub for more information.

For some better information look at:

http://www.sword-buyers-guide.com/authentic-samurai-sword.html

OracleofWuffing
2012-08-29, 03:23 AM
It's not the size that counts. It's how you use it. :smallwink:
Fine, then. If I had a line of, say, 20 dudes directly in front of me, each dude being 1 foot deep, how many dudes would I stab through if I thrust a katana directly forward, parallell to the ground? Assume that any dude who makes direct contact with my sword gets stabbed through, that the speed of my thrust is optimized for peak dude-stabbery, that there's no space in between the dudes, that the dudes magically have an effective mass of zero, and that any dudes that survive will be blown up after my turn.

And, for extra credit, I'm under water.

Spiryt
2012-08-29, 03:24 AM
I MAKE katanas as a hobby.

If it can cut through a pig carcass (which mine have) it can cut through a person.

Can it prepare origami paper by flowing such paper down the stream, while katana is stuck into the roe of century old Japanese sturgeon, though?

It's only actual katana if it can be true to those ancient old traditions.

Zombimode
2012-08-29, 03:34 AM
I MAKE katanas as a hobby.

If it can cut through a pig carcass (which mine have) it can cut through a person.

So your are knowledgeable about Katanas. Are you knowledgeable about other cultures swords, too, to make the comparison?

Thanks to its curved edge a Katana is a better cutting weapon then straight edged swords. That doesn't mean swords like european swords are bad at cutting. They are quite good at it, actually. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIsec-MTGwU)

But the simple fact that a Katana is a very good at cutting does not mean that it is automatically a better weapon.
A late medieval warhammer is a very good weapon. It has reach, but is short enough to be a duel weapon. Its three-way weapon head gives it lots of options and versatility. Albeit a specialized design against heavy armor it doesn't sacrifice in deadliness. It can be used by untrained persons for reasonable effectiveness thanks to the sheer power a strike or thrust with is has, but it is also a weapon that grows with the skill of its bearer.
Predictably it can't cut through anything.

To compare weapons you can't just pick one quality and try to derive how "good" a weapon is (or better: was) based solely on this. A sword is more than its sharpness.
So a Katana is sharper than a Langes Schwert. What gives? The long sword is still "sharp enough".

But lets go over some of your statements about European Swords:

European longswords, which are really just sharpened clubs.

A club is a weapon that uses its mass to generate a strong force. More elaborate designs of this type (like a mace) use this to drive pointy or sharp parts into the target. For this purpose the mass is mostly concentrated at the weapons head. A sharpened club would be a weapon with sharp edges that concentrates its mass on the end of the weapon away from the grip. There are weapons that would fit this description, like the Maquahuitl (http://kris22.edublogs.org/files/2011/01/Maquahuitl-s07xnj.png).
A Europeans Sword balanced its mass so the weight is in an equilibrium right behind the crossguard. This creates a very different handling. It also relies much less on its mass for its effects. Clubs and swords are weapons of very different designs. To equate europeans swords with clubs is to ignore the designs specifications of these types. It is, so to speak, flat out wrong.


We in the modern day have this strange notion that European swords are made with the primary purpose of cutting.

Well, it is a weapon with an edge. What makes you thing the edge wasn't used to what its design implies? Also, do you believe contemporary (http://s3.amazonaws.com/magnoliasoft.imageweb/bridgeman/supersize/lal337194.jpg) art that clearly shows swords as cutting weapons, quite potent in this regard in fact, are "all lies"?
I really would like to hear that argument.


European swords were made to kill people and to survive long campaigns, how was up to the wielder. They are durable and heavy, but they cannot hold an edge. They weren't meant to, as an edge would make them fragile. They were meant to be just sharp enough that their weight could force the blade through the target, as well as sharp enough that they could impale a target. They need not be very sharp to do both those things.

Again, contemporary art and text clearly suggests that swords are cutting weapons and quite good at it. Your assertion that a european sword "cannot hold an edge" is still without an argument. You just claim that.
The design of a sword does not make it very good at using mass to achieve its goals. European swords are also quite light. The blade of a Katana is probably quite comparable in weight to the blade of many european swords. For swords that (also) use their mass to cut through things, look at the Falcata (http://www.imperiumancientarmory.com/images/Falcata_horsehead.jpg) for instance.


A katana is made of far superior materials. Its made of higher quality steel which has been worked to remove as much impurities as possible, and is made in a way (folded so that there are thousands of parallel layers that run the length of the blade to give it strength) that makes it far more durable than a European longsword as well as more capable of holding an edge without uncompromising the integrity of the blade.

Again, you know how Katanas were forged. To you also know to the same degree how swords in say Germany 1300 ad. were forged. Or do you just assume?
Addressing the "durability" of an Katana: the bending test in the video I've linked above? Try that with a Katana, and then we will talk about "durability" :smallamused:


Also, you have not addressed, how Katanas are superior weapons.
I'm in no way an expert on this, but from the looks of it, the Langes Schwert is a much more versatile weapon, usable in a variety of situations and against different types of enemies.

Spiryt
2012-08-29, 03:48 AM
Thanks to its curved edge a Katana is a better cutting weapon then straight edged swords. That doesn't mean swords like european swords are bad at cutting. They are quite good at it, actually. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIsec-MTGwU)



Cold steel stuff is not that far removed from 'sharpened club' actually, and using them as example of Medieval sword is not good idea.

Mostly because they don't have much in common.

Deadmeat.GW
2012-08-29, 03:58 AM
Lets be honest if even Cold Steel stuff can CUT and specifically cut things that are traditionally used in Katana test cutting then you have to admit that the whole premise to use the clip to counter the sharpened club statement.

The balance on some of their stuff feels...I don't know, off?

I have wielded some of their stuff and it felt pretty heavy, heavier then some of the stuff I was allowed to swing around when I was allowed to handle some originals, despite the weight being pretty much the same.

I am guessing the issue there is that the balance is not quite right for the blade but even so that is a long way off from being a club with edges.

I have used clubs with edges...

It was called a flanged mace...

Zombimode
2012-08-29, 04:05 AM
Well, I don't study medieval weapons or so, so I just have these little and sometimes a bit silly youtube videos for reference. Its just that there are so many of them showing the same thing: european swords are good at cutting things. And this is backed up by contemporary art and descriptions. If medieval text talk about qualities of swords, sharpness is topic #1. Do note that I take the art, like the sample I've linked above, as the primary evidence. The video just seem to reinforce the notion.
I would still dispute the classification of Swords as Clubs, simply because of the profound design differences.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-08-29, 04:31 AM
I study and practice with melee weapons of all kinds, whenever I have the opportunity.

I can tell you this with some certainty: different weapons are better for different circumstances, assuming a similar level of skill. In an infiltration and reconnaisance mission, I'd much rather have a shortsword or a long knife than a katana or a longsword. For hacking apart heavily armored foes a battleaxe or a warhammer is better than any sword. For carving up unarmored enemies either a longsword or katana will do just fine, the better option is whichever you're more skilled with; because while similar, they do handle differently.

All that out of the way; since what D&D calls a bastard sword doesn't actually correspond to what history calls a bastard sword, maybe it'd be better to think about it as a mechanical abstraction. A "bastard sword" is a weapon that's used two-handed to do either slashing or piercing damage, and can be used one-handed with special training. A katana is a weapon that is designed to be used two-handed to do either slashing or piercing damage that can be used one-handed with special training. An arming sword is a two-handed weapon designed to do either piercing or slashing damage and can be used one-handed with special training.

If D&D got the name wrong, so what? This whole question is being horribly over-thought.

Spiryt
2012-08-29, 04:42 AM
I am guessing the issue there is that the balance is not quite right for the blade but even so that is a long way off from being a club with edges.

Balance's not right, neither metallurgy, construction, design, nor sheer looks...

Club is obviosuly hyperbole, but Cold Steel is just not good example of 'longsword' because it some kind of 'Medieval inspired' sword for cutting stuff, not something attempting to be a replica.

Here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v4j3mvrDyQ) a bit more accurate, at least by looks in 'cut some stuff for giggles'.


Anyway, for any discussion about swords cutting ability, one has to finally specify something about sword.

For extra quick example two Swiss swords from roughly the same period, and obviosuly vastly different capabilities, due to design differences.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/swiss-swords.html

toapat
2012-08-29, 11:43 AM
Cold Steel is just not good example of 'longsword' because it some kind of 'Medieval inspired' sword for cutting stuff, not something attempting to be a replica.

isnt Cold rolling a really new technique at that?

i also addressed the guy's moronic comments already, A blade that can cut, isnt as useful as a blade that maims. Europeans have known this for years, where as ive never heard this phylosophy delivered from Eastern Thought. hell, i would suspect that the Church would have outlawed weapons of War in prefference of Weapons of injury because wounding a dude is less contextually CE then Murdering them.

A High quality Katana is comparable to a Glass Longsword in Western Techniques, great with cutting, horrible at defense because of its material.

Calling something a club though because you were comparing the balance to a Katana is also wrong, a Sword is going to have a different balance then a Naginta, which will have a different balance then a Maul.

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-29, 07:30 PM
not really, its pretty well known that a Katana is a well made weapon, but that the ore, the refinement techniques, the metal, were all of lower quality then would be expected if forged in Europe at the same time. That is why so much work had to be put into swords in Japan. The blades as a result were incredibly strong on a plane which passes through the edge, but you cant block with the weapon. You had to deflect incoming strikes or catch them in Jitte because they would snap if they took a blow directly because of their by design Brittleness. It's a well known fact that a broken sword is irreparable.

one advantage of the socalled "Sharpened Bludgeon" is that it can hold up, blow after blow, going through heavy armor. Blades Chip, doesnt matter how high quality you make them, getting that cutting edge sharp enough to divide, but blunt enough to hold up, is much better for armored combat because they dont wear down, and they are less liable to splinter on impact. A Blade is only as useful as a slashing weapon because of the completeness of it's cutting edge. On the other hand, where as a Katana is a narrow blade, a Longsword is a very wide, thick blade, able to take blows more effectively then a Katana.

Yes and no. You are largely correct in your assessment of a katana's weakness. The strength is along the plane of the blade, meaning that the blade is relatively fragile on the sides. However, you can parry with the back of the blade (opposite the edge) and can easily parry another katana without much worry.

However, you are horrible wrong with the regards to a katana's quality. The Japanese where one of the first cultures in the world to make and use STEEL. Katanas are steel weapons, and in the height of the Middle Ages steel was more common in Japan than it was in Europe. The first steel in Japan was usually meteoric. However, the Japanese were one of the first to developed ways to roughly replicate meteoric steel. Furthermore, the very technique by which a katana is forged forces a large amount of impurities out of the metal, generally increasing its quality. Combine with the fact that the forging technique makes the blade incredibly strong compared to any blade of similar thickness, katanas are incredible well-made weapons.

Furthermore, Katanas came about in the 12th century. In those days in Europe, the Crusaders were still wearing chaimail and scale mail, steel was uncommon, and plate was almost non-existent. If they were were rich enough they might have a "suit of plate", which is a leather jacket with plates sewed into it, or a cuirass (breatplate). A katana can easy take care of chain and scale and even a "suit of plate", which means in that day Europeans did not have an armor advantage that could justify "Sharpened Clubs".


If we were to compare the armor of a Samurai to that of a Knight, you would see that the Samurai is wearing Splint chain armor (If that, the best ive been able to find information on is flat linked chainmail, a very open Chainmail pattern), where as a Knight stands tall in his Walking Steel Coffin of armor, which itself hides at the very least a layer of Padded armor, if not also a layer of full chainmail containing Pleated link formations, which provide more significant protection then the open flat linked chain.

The weapons needed to get through the armor of the Knight's thick and ablative armor are either weapons able to withstand significant abuse, such as Western Longswords, or more prefferably, a Warhammer to open that armor like a tin can. The Katana would typically either become lodged inside the armor, or shatter on impact during a swing because of its incredibly brittle nature. The only way the Samurai gets through is with a very slow and obvious stabbing attack.
The Samurai? his armor relies on Deflection of swift blows delivered by a light weapon, A Longsword is going to rip right through his armor and reduce him to a pile of gore.

If we are talking Lethality: There is no point you want something to go for lethality. Killing someone takes more effort then maiming them, and as Science Fiction has taught quite well: Killing a man removes one person from the battle, Maiming a man removes him, the people who carries him off the field, and the medics.

Incorrect. Samurai usually wore lamellar. Lamaller is usually made of hardened cured leather, with plates of steal or wood on top. It was an armor type that began with the Romans (that armor you think of with the skirt and horsehair is bronze plated lamellar), survived with the Byzantine empire (useful as strong but lightweight cavalry armor) and spread east. If done right, it is far superior to chain and scale mail. Japanese Great armor (what you think of when you think samurai, dating to the 10th when ringmail and chainmail was the norm in Europe and steel of any kind was only in the armories of the Holy Roman Emperors) was made of hardened cured leather, bamboo and steal, and it was build just like any none plate armor to deflect GLANCING blows, but not to take direct blows. However, it took direct hits VERY well and the weight to protection ration was one of the best among most armors, being incredibly light (60 to 80lbs). Often chain or leather pads were worn underneath.

Secondly, a European longsword cannot make it through plate either. Plate was as you put it a "Walking Steel Coffin" and it almost made the wearer invincible to anything but the bludgeoning effect of a weapon (the reason longswords stayed around and why maces became all the rage). You didn't PIERCE plate with a sword. Your sword was even more a cub against plate, because thats what it was plate is for, immunity to all but the most well placed piercing and slashing damage. You killed plate armored knights by other means. You used a pike or a bill to punch through the armor using the weight of a knight's own charge. Or you riddled him with arrows from a longbow, crossbow, or recurved bow (how the English won at Agincourt). Or you dehorsed him, disarmed him, and stabbed him through the holes in his armor while he struggled and failed to stand up (palte is heavy and that's what a stiletto is for, also the origin of the term "chink in the armor"). Or you danced around him until the sun and his oven suit killed him. But you didn't stab him with a longsword. Or cut him. You'd need at least zweihander for that, and it'd still be tough. Because that was the point of plate. And that is why the advent of gunpower weapons so thoroughly destroyed the legacy of the mounted knight. Furthermore, you ignore the fact that full plate doesn't really come to Europe until the 15th centuries. The height of plate was the 16th century, yet the Japanese are historically considered to be the most imposing warriors in the world in those days anyway!!

And Lethality matters. That's just silly.
And in Medieval Japan, if you were maimed, you often killed yourself in shame of defeat. And in Medieval Europe, if you were maimed, you likely just laid on the ground until the end of the battle. There was no such thing as medics and no one but kings got carried of the field. So killing and maiming were the same in the Middle Age, except maimed opponents often came back for revenge.

BootStrapTommy
2012-08-30, 12:43 AM
Balance's not right, neither metallurgy, construction, design, nor sheer looks...

Club is obviosuly hyperbole, but Cold Steel is just not good example of 'longsword' because it some kind of 'Medieval inspired' sword for cutting stuff, not something attempting to be a replica.

Here's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3v4j3mvrDyQ) a bit more accurate, at least by looks in 'cut some stuff for giggles'.


Anyway, for any discussion about swords cutting ability, one has to finally specify something about sword.

For extra quick example two Swiss swords from roughly the same period, and obviosuly vastly different capabilities, due to design differences.

http://www.thearma.org/spotlight/swiss-swords.html

On all accounts "sharpened club" is admitted hyperbole. But it gets the point across. Longswords uses its weight more than its edge to cut. They were made that way because iron is by nature quite brittle, so rather than try and keep it sharp, you let it get dull and use the weight instead so that it can survive being smashed against armor and other weapons all day. Longswords were comparably dull for pragmatic reasons. The technique for making a katana lets it have and hold a sharp edge in a way longswords cannot. An edge is more efficient than weight when it comes to cutting, assuming you don't have to trade in durability. With a katana, you don't.

As for the video, I've done much the same to a dead pig with a katana.
Though admittedly, the world of modern swords uses much superior materials that either the Japanese or the Europeans had access to.

kardar233
2012-08-30, 06:50 AM
Weighing in on the European longsword side:

Keep in mind that the differences between the longswords used in open warfare by knights, landsknechts, or whoever got their hands on one and the ones used in the unarmored combat styles of Liechtenauer and Fiore are negligible. The longsword is a very versatile platform.

And speaking of anti-armour performance, great sharpness is actually an undesirable attribute against heavy armour. Plate was built to emphasize oblique angles to deflect oncoming attacks, and an overly sharp weapon will tend to glance off rather than transmit its force directly. A longsword's straight blade and lateral strength also allows for some devilish grappling moves as you can use it as a lever, knocking down or otherwise immobilizing an armoured opponent and setting you up for misericord work. Openings in plate armour are generally at joint areas, which due to European martial techniques and the construction of the katana are difficult to strike directly at (believe me, I've tried).

~EDIT~ Also, it wasn't gunpowder weapons that destroyed the viability of the knight in combat. The term "bulletproof" derives from armoursmithing; to demonstrate the strength of his armour, a smith would fire a rifle at it. The resulting dent was known as the "proof", thus the armour would be "bullet proofed". The real death of the knight was the rise of disciplined infantry groupings like those demonstrated by the Swiss pike-and-shot formations.

OracleofWuffing
2012-08-30, 06:58 AM
The technique for making a katana lets it have and hold a sharp edge in a way longswords cannot. An edge is more efficient than weight when it comes to cutting, assuming you don't have to trade in durability. With a katana, you don't.
Yes, you've established that katanas are sharp. Yes, sharp things cut more cleanly than dull things. However, smashing in one's skull still does the same thing as bisecting one's skull. And if you're telling us that a longsword can bludgeon as slight as a bruise through plate while a katana just kinda wishes for the target to slip on a banana peel, what exactly are we supposed to take away from the discussion?

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 07:10 AM
And speaking of anti-armour performance, great sharpness is actually an undesirable attribute against heavy armour. Plate was built to emphasize oblique angles to deflect oncoming attacks, and an overly sharp weapon will tend to glance off rather than transmit its force directly. A longsword's straight blade and lateral strength also allows for some devilish grappling moves as you can use it as a lever, knocking down or otherwise immobilizing an armoured opponent and setting you up for misericord work. Openings in plate armour are generally at joint areas, which due to European martial techniques and the construction of the katana are difficult to strike directly at (believe me, I've tried).


Striking with edge of the sword against plate armor is anyway rather pointless and pretty much desperate case, and overall sharpnes of the edge really won't make much difference as far as deflecting go.

Yet again, distinction that European cutting longsword were more "anti-armour", heavier, less sharp is fictional and made up generalization.

Out of hundreds different designs, there are swords that are still really, really sharp after years of being museum pieces.


However, you are horrible wrong with the regards to a katana's quality. The Japanese where one of the first cultures in the world to make and use STEEL. Katanas are steel weapons, and in the height of the Middle Ages steel was more common in Japan than it was in Europe. The first steel in Japan was usually meteoric. However, the Japanese were one of the first to developed ways to roughly replicate meteoric steel. Furthermore, the very technique by which a katana is forged forces a large amount of impurities out of the metal, generally increasing its quality. Combine with the fact that the forging technique makes the blade incredibly strong compared to any blade of similar thickness, katanas are incredible well-made weapons.

Furthermore, Katanas came about in the 12th century. In those days in Europe, the Crusaders were still wearing chaimail and scale mail, steel was uncommon, and plate was almost non-existent. If they were were rich enough they might have a "suit of plate", which is a leather jacket with plates sewed into it, or a cuirass (breatplate). A katana can easy take care of chain and scale and even a "suit of plate", which means in that day Europeans did not have an armor advantage that could justify "Sharpened Clubs".

Crusaders didn't have breastplates, coat of plates wouldn't be really in use either, katana won't "take care" (lol) of mail or scale.



. However, it took direct hits VERY well and the weight to protection ration was one of the best among most armors, being incredibly light (60 to 80lbs).

60 pound armor isn't 'light' let alone incredibly light.

Many 15th century full cavalry armors didn't weight more than that, and they were full cover from sabatons to helmet, pretty much.



Europe and steel of any kind was only in the armories of the Holy Roman Emperors)

Steel of any kind was not in any armoreries, whatever that might mean, but on the edges and surfaces of swords, knives, axes from hundreds of years.
:smallconfused:
Similarly with helmets, many tools, and so on.

It was expensive and valuable, but so it was everywhere else.

You should stop spreading such a fictional "history".

kardar233
2012-08-30, 07:19 AM
Also, keep in mind that while you're gushing about the folding technique and its effect on the iron quality, European iron ore (especially the stuff from Scandinavia) was of far better quality than the stuff they found in Japan.

To put it another way: Sure, it's impressive to spin pure gold out of flax. But when you've got 10-karat gold nuggets already, you need to do a lot less work for a similar result.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 07:29 AM
Why Scandinavia?

Scandinavia had mainly bog ores and similar, and while it was generally solid ore, quantities are not very satisfying.

A lot of "norse" blades were import from continent.

Generally, before some ~11th century, large billets of quality and reliable steel were very rare as well - thus popularity of all welding, pattern welding, "branded steel" and similar techniques.

Steel edges and surface with iron, or very lightly carbonized cores, were common too.

kardar233
2012-08-30, 07:32 AM
Really? I'd read that Scandinavian iron was of generally very high quality. Granted, I've never bothered to go far in-depth into the metallurgy of the medieval era (being more focused on the thwacking side of things), but goes to show there's a lot of unsubstantiated information going around.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 07:36 AM
Well, Sweden in particular became power in steel industry, but that started in 18th century.

Premier
2012-08-30, 07:47 AM
I don't like getting into this, but basic honesty forces me to.


Unless he provides objective and incontrovertible proof of his swordsmithing hobby, I can only consider BootstrapTommy to have told a fib, a white lie, a tall tale.

He is wrong on numerous very basic matters of factual data, as others have been busy pointing out. He displays a complete lack of humility and offers opinions in an authoritative tone on matters of European swordsmanship he's apparently rather ignorant of, which I just cannot reconcile with the attitude an actual student of Japanese weaponsmithing could be expected to have. And even if we were to assume that a student of such could be, somehow, completely ignorant of Occidental swordmaking, that wouldn't explain such fundamental lack of understanding as he displayed when he affirmed that one sword type can be generally and universally superior to another regardless of the circumstances of technology and warfare.

This is not meant to be an attack on anyone's character. This is just expressing strong doubt about the factual veracity of somebody's claims.

SiuiS
2012-08-30, 08:06 AM
Are you sure it's anyway plausible replica?

For quick check, Deepeka still offers almost 4 pounds sword that's 4.2 mm thich all around, meter long, and has point of balance 10 inches away from guard.

So indeed unwieldy to the limit.

It is tweaked specifically to get the "hur hur I'm a swordsman" stupidity over and done with, but otherwise, yes. The real issue is my weak wrists; I am just not used to such a short handle. It's actually a running gag amongst vendors who sell to anyone who does any sort of martial art - they will inevitably try to twirl the sword all fancy-movie like, and jab themselves in the wrist with the quillion.


Celtic and Germanic blades didn't 'depend on weight and momentum" any more than Greek swords, Roman swords, Iberian swords or any other for that matter.

Dunno where it comes from. Particularly Germanic tribes were not exactly rich with metal artifacts, so wouldn't use more steel for something than absolutely necessary. :smallconfused:

That's actually got some traction. I don't have anything close to a citation, but roman accounts of what would become Scottish highlanders include them just swinging away like with a baseball bat, much how we expect a barbarian with the cleave feat to behave. Whether marveling at the ferocity, mocking the silliness or being amazed that it worked, I couldn't tell you. It also has the ring of that sort of historical lie a culture would propagate, so it's up for grabs as to how accurate it is. It is a Known and State thing, however.


NO. Sharpness is very effective to the use of a sword. But most swords are not made to THEMSELVES handle sharpness. They either can't hold an edge or they break. Sharpen a longsword to the keenness of a katana, it will cut way better. However, it will snap in half the moment it comes into contact with another weapon. A katana can have in excess of 1600 parallel layers of steel in the blade. It can HOLD a keen edge, which is why it can cut through anything but plate armor like butter.

That's a matter of blade geometry, not hardness/sharpness. An Appleseed katana blade can cut just as well as a normal one, with a less keen edge. If a bad katana, used properly, can cut as well as a much sharper, harder katana, then what makes you say a non-katana cannot cut as well based on their own unique geometries?

Also, physics will tell you that hardened leather is easier to cut through than supple leather. And I'm pretty certain history will tell you that bamboo was not actually ever used for samurai armor. At least not for protection.

That being said, there is some pretty slick whicker and shark tooth armor out there if you're looking.


isnt Cold rolling a really new technique at that?

i also addressed the guy's moronic comments already, A blade that can cut, isnt as useful as a blade that maims. Europeans have known this for years, where as ive never heard this phylosophy delivered from Eastern Thought. hell, i would suspect that the Church would have outlawed weapons of War in prefference of Weapons of injury because wounding a dude is less contextually CE then Murdering them.

This is true, and used in modern warfare, but if this was a medieval thing why did they have a coup de grace, and knives for just such things?
Battlefield looting, maybe?

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 08:53 AM
That's actually got some traction. I don't have anything close to a citation, but roman accounts of what would become Scottish highlanders include them just swinging away like with a baseball bat, much how we expect a barbarian with the cleave feat to behave. Whether marveling at the ferocity, mocking the silliness or being amazed that it worked, I couldn't tell you. It also has the ring of that sort of historical lie a culture would propagate, so it's up for grabs as to how accurate it is. It is a Known and State thing, however.



Swinging like baseball bat doesn't indicate any sort of heavy sword, though, just using it to swing away hard/awkwardly.

There's nothing indicating that north Keltic blades were any larger than continental ones.

This one (http://www.mylearning.org/drawing-on-history/images/1-1918/) was apparently half a meter long

http://www.myarmoury.com/nateb_swor_dt201A.html


I also wonder how Romans knew what baseball bat was. :smallamused::smallbiggrin:

DGB
2012-08-30, 09:51 AM
As a native austrian i have to weigh in on the discussion regarding the quality of european iron.

Iron that was found in the Norican region (today Styria in Austria) was usually meteoric in nature and regarded as early as the times of the roman empire as top-noch iron. The main reason why Rome bothered to trade with Noricum was the Noric Iron which held a great reputation amongst all the empire and was even brought to countries as far as egypt as a gift in form of knives or cutting utensils.
Even today where I come from there are still villages which names translate to Iron Ore or Iron Mountain, however most of the quality stuff is long gone and the mining has become uneconomical...

Edit: was there even enough "steel" in japan to make full-body armors? If katanas couldn't pierce a brestplate you would think somebody should have gotten the idea to make one.:smalltongue:

Ashtagon
2012-08-30, 10:36 AM
Edit: was there even enough "steel" in japan to make full-body armors? If katanas couldn't pierce a brestplate you would think somebody should have gotten the idea to make one.:smalltongue:

Yes. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:NanbanDo.jpg) There was.

toapat
2012-08-30, 12:41 PM
They were made that way because iron is by nature quite brittle

And you lose all credibility right there. Iron isnt Brittle, pig and Cast Iron are, but Iron? You can, with a significant bit of Effort, Work pure iron cold and with only your hands. Pig Iron and Cast Iron are not used in non-balistics weaponry, because they have over .9% Carbon concentration, the hard limit for Spring Steel Alloys. Katana Alloys are Pig Iron and soft iron, both basically useless because one holds no structure, and the other shatters pretty easily, and only viable in their Nested Spike Configuration because the strengths of each material complement eachother when you are swinging the blade. This on the other hand Makes the weapon Virtually unusable for defense, because the structure is incredibly brittle, and only viable from a single direction. Blocking with the back of the weapon doesnt work for the same reason as the sides.

On the other hand, Europeans were typically alot better at getting that Butterzone .6% Structural steel alloy, which can be tempered into Springsteel, the optimal material for Metal based Ablative Armor and for non-fragmentation non-KEP weapons.

All Swords can be used to pierce through a quality Breastplate, its the same reason why the Crossbow and Rifle somewhat outmoded the Knight even before the realization that Combined Arms are cheaper, more easily trained, and as effective. The only reason why using a Sword as opposed to any ranged KEP weapon is problematic is because you are not going to be using a sword at the same distance you are going to be using Composite, Long, Flat, Recurve, and Compound Bows. This is why bows in fiction often get a pair of spikes on either side of the handgrip. You simply cant use Kinetic Energy Penetration weapons or Techniques effectively at melee range if it isnt an Automatic/Semi Automatic gun.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 12:58 PM
And you lose all credibility right there. Iron isnt Brittle, pig and Cast Iron are, but Iron? You can, with a significant bit of Effort, Work pure iron cold and with only your hands. Pig Iron and Cast Iron are not used in non-balistics weaponry, because they have over .9% Carbon concentration, the hard limit for Spring Steel Alloys. Katana Alloys are Pig Iron and soft iron, both basically useless because one holds no structure, and the other shatters pretty easily, and only viable in their Nested Spike Configuration because the strengths of each material complement eachother when you are swinging the blade.



I seriously doubt that Katana's, or any other weapons had pig iron in it... :smallconfused:




All Swords can be used to pierce through a quality Breastplate,


Citation needed?

Actually majority of swords most probably couldn't be used to do it at all, discussion can be about if some very stout XV(a)'s or XVII Oakeshott types could actually be used to do so.



its the same reason why the Crossbow and Rifle somewhat outmoded the Knight even before the realization that Combined Arms are cheaper, more easily trained, and as effective. The only reason why using a Sword as opposed to any ranged KEP weapon is problematic is because you are not going to be using a sword at the same distance you are going to be using Composite, Long, Flat, Recurve, and Compound Bows.

Crossbows never "outmoded" knights, crossbows were in common use in Europe since at least 11th century, up to 16th, and this is pretty much the period of typical "knighthood" as well. Knights used crossbows as much as any other people, anyway, so such statements are as common as incorrect.

Ashtagon
2012-08-30, 01:14 PM
...because iron is by nature quite brittle, ...

This is why iron is never used in the manufacture of springs or wire.

Incidentally, a five second google search reveals the existence of "malleable iron" and "ductile iron", with sources noting that they are not the same as malleable steel or ductile steel.

toapat
2012-08-30, 01:59 PM
I seriously doubt that Katana's, or any other weapons had pig iron in it... :smallconfused:

Crossbows never "outmoded" knights, crossbows were in common use in Europe since at least 11th century, up to 16th, and this is pretty much the period of typical "knighthood" as well. Knights used crossbows as much as any other people, anyway, so such statements are as common as incorrect.

In terms of realitive concentration of Carbon

a Stabbing weapon carries hundreds of times the penetrating energy of a civilian firearm bullet, scaling up the dagger to a longsword makes it even moreso. Spring steel has a much better ductile strength then Ballistic Ceramics, but the material itself is not as brittle or relatively thick. Spring Steel is going to take that hit, Open up, and fail to slow it down. The normal Thickness of a Knight's breastplate is a third of what is needed to stop a relatively large and slow bullet at that. (to compare, an M16 has a penetration power of 1767 Joules, an Era accurate gun, according to my calculations, has a penetration power of 689.3 Joules. id be giving numbers of daggers and swords, if my Googlefu wasnt failing me)

I wasnt saying that the Knight stopped being trained, but i was pointing out that an effective weapon still existed against fullplate.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 02:10 PM
a Stabbing weapon carries hundreds of times the penetrating energy of a civilian firearm bullet, scaling up the dagger to a longsword makes it even moreso. Spring steel has a much better ductile strength then Ballistic Ceramics, but the material itself is not as brittle or relatively thick. Spring Steel is going to take that hit, Open up, and fail to slow it down. The normal Thickness of a Knight's breastplate is a third of what is needed to stop a relatively large and slow bullet at that. (to compare, an M16 has a penetration power of 1767 Joules, an Era accurate gun, according to my calculations, has a penetration power of 689.3 Joules. id be giving numbers of daggers and swords, if my Googlefu wasnt failing me)

I wasnt saying that the Knight stopped being trained, but i was pointing out that an effective weapon still existed against fullplate.

Stabbing weapon doesn't have "hundreds of times penetrating enegy" of any bullet.:smallconfused:

Joules are kinetic energy, not any "penetration power".

Era accurate bullet from a gun, could have anywhere from 300 J to 3000J, depending on caliber, type of firearm, powder and so on.

As far as sheer energy goes, sword stabs etc. are very unlikely to go very much north of ~ 100 J. Depending on man's size, speed and so on.

Most important thing is that kinetic energy matter very little without knowing how this energy is being spent, though.

Well kicked football can easily have more than 200J of energy, but it's not going to really harm anyone.




Spring steel has a much better ductile strength then Ballistic Ceramics, but the material itself is not as brittle or relatively thick. Spring Steel is going to take that hit, Open up, and fail to slow it down.

This is very inane part... What material itself is not as brittle? Spring steel is going to take what hit?


In any case, both period manuals and modern tests suggest that it's not really feasible to stab 'trough' armor with a sword.

Aiming to non-defended spots is a way to use the point.

toapat
2012-08-30, 02:29 PM
*snip*
A stabing weapon doesnt loose energy on impact in the same way a bullet will. You can drive home the weapon after the initial impact. If you can deform the impacted surface, its just a little more to go through.

the problem with actually getting the numbers, is that the Techniques havent survived, the numbers arent well known, and alot of the artifacts that would be needed to test all this are lost, in such condition asto never be usable again, or in private collections that will never see use. the reason why we know so much about the Katana in combat is because unlike the longsword, we didnt loose the forging methods or combat arts for it to Sabers and Rapiers.

the gun i used was a 1600s rifle with 12.3mm bore and muzzle velocity of 438 m/s. Yes a Sphere and a miniball have different drag cross-sections, the original impact is what we are talking about here.

and the materials comparison is between modern anti-stabbing armor and a knight's breastplate.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 03:03 PM
A stabing weapon doesnt loose energy on impact in the same way a bullet will. You can drive home the weapon after the initial impact. If you can deform the impacted surface, its just a little more to go through.


Yes, the weapon with hand holding it, and arms with shoulders moving with given speed, will behave completely different than a bullet.

Still, there's nothing really indicating swords stabbing trough breastplates.





the problem with actually getting the numbers, is that the Techniques havent survived, the numbers arent well known, and alot of the artifacts that would be needed to test all this are lost, in such condition asto never be usable again, or in private collections that will never see use. the reason why we know so much about the Katana in combat is because unlike the longsword, we didnt loose the forging methods or combat arts for it to Sabers and Rapiers.


But we didn't "loose" forging methods any more than with katana's case. :smallconfused:

Swords in museums and from excavations tend to be researched very well, broken ones naturally give insight into all of the structure.

Actual 'medieval' forging methods are still used from time to time in case of more 'artistic' iron works, that's not any rocket sciences anyway.


the gun i used was a 1600s rifle with 12.3mm bore and muzzle velocity of 438 m/s. Yes a Sphere and a miniball have different drag cross-sections, the original impact is what we are talking about here.

With 12 mm bullet made of lead, energy should be around 1000J then.

In case of iron one, somewhere around 750.

toapat
2012-08-30, 04:10 PM
But we didn't "loose" forging methods any more than with katana's case. :smallconfused:

Science being able to tell us the structure of a blade lets us find out alot, typically enough to know how to duplicate the blade.

We dont know how to replicate Damascus Steel, or how they somehow forged a blade with Carbon Nano-tubes on it's surface. We can duplicate the Appearance, and .6% Carbon Steel tempered into Springsteel still outperforms it, but it doesnt change that fact.

Spiryt
2012-08-30, 04:17 PM
We dont know how to replicate Damascus Steel, or how they somehow forged a blade with Carbon Nano-tubes on it's surface. We can duplicate the Appearance, and .6% Carbon Steel tempered into Springsteel still outperforms it, but it doesnt change that fact.

Damascus patterns are not very common at all though, especially in Europe.

Pretty much no longsword would be even pattern wielded at all, coming from era when those weren't widely used techniques anymore.

So Damascus and all similar stuff isn't really relevant here.

toapat
2012-08-30, 08:06 PM
Damascus patterns are not very common at all though, especially in Europe.

Pretty much no longsword would be even pattern wielded at all, coming from era when those weren't widely used techniques anymore.

So Damascus and all similar stuff isn't really relevant here.

as i said, we know how to make things that look like Damascus steel, we dont actuallly know how to duplicate it.

most swordsmithing techniques can be pretty easily represented with a Shoe and piece of paper

SiuiS
2012-08-30, 09:00 PM
Swinging like baseball bat doesn't indicate any sort of heavy sword, though, just using it to swing away hard/awkwardly.

There's nothing indicating that north Keltic blades were any larger than continental ones.

The quote is something about cleaving with great, two handed swords. Other thn that I have nothing.


I also wonder how Romans knew what baseball bat was. :smallamused::smallbiggrin:

Well, I'm quoting Romans without a source and not in Latin. I'm sure some amount of discrepancy must be placed on me as a poor vessel, and opposed to the data so encapsulated ;)


Yes, the weapon with hand holding it, and arms with shoulders moving with given speed, will behave completely different than a bullet.

Still, there's nothing really indicating swords stabbing trough breastplates.


I think her argument is a sword could, not that any sword ever did.



But we didn't "loose" forging methods any more than with katana's case. :smallconfused:

Quite the contrary, there are techniques use we have never been able to decipher or replicate. We know what they are made of, but not how to make them using equipment available in te period the swords were made.

Spiryt
2012-08-31, 05:00 AM
The quote is something about cleaving with great, two handed swords. Other thn that I have nothing.


There's nothing about two handed swords in Celtic, Germanic or generally antique finds, nor mentions, so there must be something off here...

Save dacian weapons, but those aren't swords as such.

Scottish Highlanders with great two handed swords is 16th century onwards schtick.



as i said, we know how to make things that look like Damascus steel, we don't actually know how to duplicate it.

most swordsmithing techniques can be pretty easily represented with a Shoe and piece of paper

Again, so what? Damascus steel isn't really relevant to longswords and high medieval weapons in general.




Quite the contrary, there are techniques use we have never been able to decipher or replicate. We know what they are made of, but not how to make them using equipment available in the period the swords were made.

Well, such as?

Swords of general medieval Europe can be actually replicated very accurately, even if it's not common, because there's not that much demand, most people interested decide to stick with more or less cheaper replicas.

Biggest problem is generally period metallurgy, but some people have bloomeries to produce medieval iron as well..... Do pattern welding and stuff.

http://www.templ.net/english/making-welded_steel.php

toapat
2012-08-31, 10:49 AM
Again, so what? Damascus steel isn't really relevant to longswords and high medieval weapons in general.

not everyone is a major in historical Weaponsmithing like you, so they cant name alot of the lost arts

Spiryt
2012-08-31, 12:21 PM
not everyone is a major in historical Weaponsmithing like you, so they cant name alot of the lost arts

That's hostile without really being on topic either.... And not sure what's it about too. :smallconfused:

I'm just saying that Damascus steel, the art that is indeed lost for us, apparently, isn't really relevant to discussion about katanas or high Medieval weapons.

Exediron
2012-09-01, 12:19 AM
... I believe that what toapat is saying is that we have lost the art of making period European weapons because rapiers and sabers replaced them - much as we lost the art of making Damascus steel. Damascus steel in this instance is thus being used only as an arbitrary example of another lost weapon-smithing process. I'm not really sure why he thinks this.

As far as the whole bullet vs. sword thing, the big difference here is in how the energy is applied. A bullet applies its penetrating energy in one big lump, and if it doesn't get through it loses it all. A sword continues to apply its energy as it is thrust by the swordsman. This allows a bullet to pass through hard and brittle armor - such as steel plate - but be unable to penetrate more flexible armor, such as a modern bulletproof vest (which catches the bullet and stretches instead of trying to block it completely). This is also why a knife can stab through a Kevlar vest while a handgun can't penetrate it (well, it's a very simplified version of why, at least).

Also, a bullet carries much more kinetic energy than any swordsman could possibly impart to a swing. A good hit with a Katana or equivalent size sword is 75 joules or so, maybe as many as 100. This is a lot - a swing from a 16oz hammer only carries about 25 at most. A bullet carries thousands of joules, and despite the myths of today, the bullets of the time were actually pretty powerful things. They were punishingly slow to reload, not very reliable and inaccurate at long range, but quite deadly. Muskets fired a ball of solid lead close to an inch in size - compared to any bullet in actual use today, that's an awfully large hunk of lead. They didn't penetrate as well as modern bullets because they spread that energy over a larger area.

Lastly, a Katana is steel. A European arming sword is steel. Samurai and Knights both wore steel armor. Neither blade will go through the steel with any sort of consistency. When a Knight wanted to thrust through his opponents armor, he didn't do it on the plates - he did it on the vulnerable portions of the armor, such as the underlying chain; the armpits were a popular place to do it because it was very difficult to armor them at all positions. No such thing as a sword which will repeatedly and reliably penetrate steel plate armor exists.

I once saw a demonstration where a Katana was used to hack about two inches into the top of an old oil drum. That's about the most you're ever going to see one do to metal, and oil drums aren't tempered steel. Also, a straight down chop at an edge results in a lot more damage than hitting the plate head one, as it's intended to be hit.

BootStrapTommy
2012-09-02, 07:46 PM
Yes, you've established that katanas are sharp. Yes, sharp things cut more cleanly than dull things. However, smashing in one's skull still does the same thing as bisecting one's skull. And if you're telling us that a longsword can bludgeon as slight as a bruise through plate while a katana just kinda wishes for the target to slip on a banana peel, what exactly are we supposed to take away from the discussion?

You're more likely to kill with a cut than a bludgeon. I'm thinking from an unarmored perspective. Bludgeon an arm and its broken. Cut an arm and its no longer attached to a body. Losing an arm would most likely kill you, even if slowly. A broken arm can be set, and likely wouldn't. A katana wins against flesh more than a longsword does. They both can cut thorugh human flesh. but for a katana to cut through flesh takes considerably less effort, meaning that a glancing blow from a katana is much more likely to be lethal than a glancing blow from a longsword. On an unarmored target its cuts cleaner with much less effort. And it weighs less, meaning you expend less energy for the same effect. The two combined mean that you will tire more slowly and are more likely to kill with the same kinda of strike, even against lightly armored targets (by lightly I simply mean NOT PLATE). Katanas are, economically speaking, the more efficient weapon when evaluated by weigh, style, and lethality.

And everyone keeps bringing up plate, seemingly to ignore than plate was a latecomer to armor, that it was very rare in its full form, and that even longswords were not designed to kill plate wearing foes through the plate. Plate was made to make the wear not just impervious to indirect strikes like other armors, but most direct strikes as well. The plate absorbs the shock and spreads it along a larger surface area, reducing the force and largely preventing anything but piercing attacks from going through. You kill a plate wearer in the "chinks in their armor" not direct force against the armor. A katana was just as capable of targeting those chinks as a longsword, though both are less likely to compared other weapons, like the bill. So can we please stop the "but against plate armor its worse" thing? Plate is an exception to the rule in the realm of armor, and that exception is not enough to dampen the otherwise superior lethality of a katana.

So, that being said, a katana is a more efficient weapon, more likely to kill with fewer hits against all but the most heavily armored targets. In the context of this, I'd think that is captured rule wise as greater damage potential, hence its status as a bastard sword rather than longsword.

Beowulf DW
2012-09-02, 08:51 PM
You're more likely to kill with a cut than a bludgeon. I'm thinking from an unarmored perspective. Bludgeon an arm and its broken. Cut an arm and its no longer attached to a body. Losing an arm would most likely kill you, even if slowly. A broken arm can be set, and likely wouldn't. A katana wins against flesh more than a longsword does. They both can cut thorugh human flesh. but for a katana to cut through flesh takes considerably less effort, meaning that a glancing blow from a katana is much more likely to be lethal than a glancing blow from a longsword. On an unarmored target its cuts cleaner with much less effort. And it weighs less, meaning you expend less energy for the same effect. The two combined mean that you will tire more slowly and are more likely to kill with the same kinda of strike, even against lightly armored targets (by lightly I simply mean NOT PLATE). Katanas are, economically speaking, the more efficient weapon when evaluated by weigh, style, and lethality.

This is a common misconception, actually. Is the katana very sharp? Yes. But after a certain point, making a blade sharper becomes pointless. The truth is that cutting through an arm or neck with a longsword doesn't take all that much more effort than when using a katana. Barely noticeable to a trained swordsman. In fact, the issue has more to do with the swordsman making the cut than with the swords themselves. Proper technique is key. The longsword, being a straight-edge, requires more of a chopping blow, while the katana, being a curved blade, requires more of a slashing blow, so as to take full advantage of the draw-cut.

Ashtagon
2012-09-03, 12:30 AM
I think we should let this thread die now. It has served its purpose.

Surrounding factors (ore quality, craftsmanship, moustache length, sharpness, etc.) I'm leaving as modifiers that may affect weapons, but are not intrinsic qualities of the weapon's fundamental shape.

TuggyNE
2012-09-03, 01:32 AM
I think we should let this thread die now. It has served its purpose.

But ... but someone is wrong on the Internet!

More seriously, this has been a fascinating read, switching between facepalms and genuine learning with remarkable rapidity, but it's probably not worth the trouble to keep going.

OracleofWuffing
2012-09-03, 02:06 AM
You're more likely to kill with a cut than a bludgeon. I'm thinking from an unarmored perspective. ... Katanas are, economically speaking, the more efficient weapon when evaluated by weigh, style, and lethality.
The thread has already been over unarmored perspective, and you've already said that Katanas are the same as longswords when cutting unarmored animals. Tiring out from weight and lethality are non-factors when a single hit kills, and you've acknowledged a single hit kills for both weapons.

And now you're saying that Katanas are more efficient because they have style? Nope, a longsword has more space to put racing stripes on it.:smallcool:


And everyone keeps bringing up plate, seemingly to ignore than plate was a latecomer to armor, that it was very rare in its full form, and that even longswords were not designed to kill plate wearing foes through the plate. ... So can we please stop the "but against plate armor its worse" thing?
You're the one telling us that longswords are relatively comparable to bludgeoning weapons, and that bludgeoning weapons are what were necessary to get through plate. That's why I asked you what we're supposed to take away from this.

That said, I find it difficult to believe that a katana can stab through kinks as capably as a longsword, considering the general katana is shorter than a general longsword.


More seriously, this has been a fascinating read,
You're telling me. I've always felt my Art History education was lacking in the weapons category, I finally know what I'm going to do (http://www.thearma.org/essays/longsword-and-katana.html) on my day off!

Matthew
2012-09-03, 03:40 AM
More seriously, this has been a fascinating read, switching between facepalms and genuine learning with remarkable rapidity, but it's probably not worth the trouble to keep going.



You're telling me. I've always felt my Art History education was lacking in the weapons category, I finally know what I'm going to do (http://www.thearma.org/essays/longsword-and-katana.html) on my day off!

You guys should follow the real weapons and armour thread, or dig back through the half dozen iterations, it is full of interesting stuff like this.

Zerter
2012-09-03, 05:51 AM
Now that this thread is oficially finished, I got to say, I was expecting the dominant topic to be more about the way the thread title was phrased. Not that the actual topics discussed were in any way more mature.

BootStrapTommy
2012-09-03, 11:51 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo&feature=related

Thought I'd post this. It's the one show on History Channel with Lee Ermey comparing the longsword to the katana. The katana seems to win on all accounts.

Just to prove my points.


The thread has already been over unarmored perspective, and you've already said that Katanas are the same as longswords when cutting unarmored animals. Tiring out from weight and lethality are non-factors when a single hit kills, and you've acknowledged a single hit kills for both weapons.

A single hit, if done right, can kill with any weapon, be it a morning star, club, katana or longsword. That means your point is moot. A katana has a higher probability of killing in a single hit. That is my point. And on a battlefield its probability (what I refered to as "lethality") that matters. A longsword can kill in one swipe, yes. But on a glancing blow, not so much. Yet a katana has a much higher probability of killing on a glancing blow. That higher probability means a higher probability of survival of the wielder. That high probability of survival translates to a better weapon, as well a high damage mechanically in an RPG.


You're the one telling us that longswords are relatively comparable to bludgeoning weapons, and that bludgeoning weapons are what were necessary to get through plate. That's why I asked you what we're supposed to take away from this.

That said, I find it difficult to believe that a katana can stab through kinks as capably as a longsword, considering the general katana is shorter than a general longsword.

Bludgeoning weapons don't get through plate. They just bruise and maybe break bones through it, which can be helpful. Yet a longsword is a poor club when compared to, say, an actual club. All of that, however, is far from killing potential. A katana's shorter length is actually what give it better piercing power, because it reduced the bend in the blade as it goes in, meaning more of the energy at the tip of the blade is applied to the target, not dissipated through the blade with flexing. A katana has better piercing power, and piercing is how you beat plate anyway.

kardar233
2012-09-04, 12:58 AM
I don't use katana myself, but a friend of mine does, and we spar occasionally.

The katana seems to demand a "swinging" thrust due to the curve of the blade (where your hands are moving along the same line as the curve) which is very inconvenient for exploiting small vulnerabilities such as armpits and wrists. You can do a straight thrust with a longsword which not only puts more of your body weight behind the weapon but it's also easier to target.

OracleofWuffing
2012-09-04, 01:00 AM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDkoj932YFo&feature=related

Thought I'd post this. It's the one show on History Channel with Lee Ermey comparing the longsword to the katana. The katana seems to win on all accounts.

Just to prove my points.
Cool, take a look here (http://www.thearma.org/essays/longsword-and-katana.html). Seems like the katana doesn't win on all accounts.


Yet a katana has a much higher probability of killing on a glancing blow.
Nope. Any flesh your katana's cutting, a longsword cuts, too. Your video demonstrates this quite well, too.


They just bruise and maybe break bones through it, which can be helpful.
Again, I ask, "And if you're telling us that a longsword can bludgeon as slight as a bruise through plate while a katana just kinda wishes for the target to slip on a banana peel, what exactly are we supposed to take away from the discussion?" And while I'm asking questions, I might as well ask why you're just now suggesting it's better to pierce through the plate with a katana and not thrust in between the kinks like you were saying earlier.


A katana's shorter length is actually what give it better piercing power, because it reduced the bend in the blade as it goes in, meaning more of the energy at the tip of the blade is applied to the target, not dissipated through the blade with flexing. A katana has better piercing power, and piercing is how you beat plate anyway.
As you can see by the link above, that's incorrect. The narrower point of a longsword and lower center of gravity are better suited for thrusting, and, well, since you were talking about the capability of a thrusting, being able to thrust from a longer distance is more important than hoping that your target stands still while you approach him. This is demonstrated in your video, too.

So why did your video go ahead and say the katana's better at thrusting? *cough* Despite claiming earlier in the video that the longsword was? Go ahead and watch the slow-motion replay again, guy's lifting the longsword after hitting the armor and not on the katana. If it was the blade flexing, the wielder's arm wouldn't rise. Looks like someone's overacting. Don't blame him, though, that's kinda what he's paid to do.

You'll also note that the katana's edge is damaged by the end of the video, while the longsword's edge is not. There goes your every claim about sharpness and keeping an edge!

BootStrapTommy
2012-09-04, 01:52 AM
Cool, take a look here (http://www.thearma.org/essays/longsword-and-katana.html). Seems like the katana doesn't win on all accounts.

As much as I might be willing to trust the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts, I am, as are most people, a visual learning. they show little in the realm of empirical to support verdicts. Furthermore, they do little to justify each verdict. And their verdict for technical versatility is questionable at best, especially since it directly contradicts my own personal experience and is incredibly Eurocentric, seeming to imply that fencing technique (which mind you, you would not be using with a longsword like they say) are somehow superior in a fight when it comes to versatility. It seems to me they really just justify it wholly on the longsword being a double edged sword. A katana has far more than 8 direct lines of attack in skilled hands, and its single blade does little to handicap it.


Nope. Any flesh your katana's cutting, a longsword cuts, too. Your video demonstrates this quite well, too.

The ability of a weapon to cut and pierce a target has more to do with its sharpness that its weight. While weight does have a great effect on a weapon's momentum, sharpness is what decreases the surfcae area of the strike, and small surface area is what determines the effectiveness of a cut or stab. A katana is MUCH sharper. Thus the surface area of each blwo is significantly smaller. While with a direct blow to a target this difference is largely moot, with a glancing blow, this means the difference between breaking a rib and gutting an opponent. In battle you want to kill a foe with the least number of strokes (you conserve energy), and in battle you are likely to strike a glancing blow as often as a direct hit. If your glancing blows are more lethal and your weapon deals with mundane armor better, than your weapon is more efficient and effective at keeping you alive and killing your opponent. A longsword, when glancing a target, due to its relative dullness, is not as likely to actually cut a target as the much sharper katana, thus less likely to kill or maim during a glancing blow.

As I said before, ANY WEAPON is deadly if the blow struck with it is direct and in the right place. What makes a weapon more effective is how likely it is to kill when your strike is NOT PERFECT and how often its design can turn what would be an otherwise not perfect blow with other weapons INTO a perfect one.


Again, I ask, "And if you're telling us that a longsword can bludgeon as slight as a bruise through plate while a katana just kinda wishes for the target to slip on a banana peel, what exactly are we supposed to take away from the discussion?" And while I'm asking questions, I might as well ask why you're just now suggesting it's better to pierce through the plate with a katana and not thrust in between the kinks like you were saying earlier.

For one, I never " suggest[ed] it's better to pierce through the plate with a katana and not thrust in between the kinks". It's always better to aim for the holes in armor. Especially if the armor is plate. And nothing I have said since has contradicted that point.

And I don't think my response could have been any clearer. The point is that a katana is better in the aggregate. It's more likely to make it through most armors. Its more likely to deal a lethal blow. Its generally a higher quality weapon. But most weapons will flounder when confronted with plate, and neither the katana nor the longsword are exceptions. That doesn't change anything else. That's the reason plate was invented.


As you can see by the link above, that's incorrect. The narrower point of a longsword and lower center of gravity are better suited for thrusting, and, well, since you were talking about the capability of a thrusting, being able to thrust from a longer distance is more important than hoping that your target stands still while you approach him. This is demonstrated in your video, too.

So why did your video go ahead and say the katana's better at thrusting? *cough* Despite claiming earlier in the video that the longsword was? Go ahead and watch the slow-motion replay again, guy's lifting the longsword after hitting the armor and not on the katana. If it was the blade flexing, the wielder's arm wouldn't rise. Looks like someone's overacting. Don't blame him, though, that's kinda what he's paid to do.

One of the most notable and recognizable stabbing swords in history was the gladius. The gladius is a short sword. It's short because being short make it lighter, quicker, and reduced the energy dissipation when striking a target. Combined with its point, this makes it effective at piercing, because it concentrations the force better to a smaller surface area. If a sword is long, then more energy is dissipated through the blade when it strikes a target, which means less force at the tip for piercing. Against an unarmored target this is not a problem, but against an armored target this can be the difference between doing nothing and killing them. While I cannot say that would balance out a wider tip, the author of your piece seems to ignore the benefits of a shorter blade in stabbing.

As for your "lifting his hand" question, you seem to inexplicably have your causation backwards. His hands move upward more BECAUSE the sword flexes more, not the other way around. It's harder to keep your hands level when the blade you are striking with is bending like a wet noodle when it hits the target.

Admittedly weapon length is a factor, but technique can always compensate for that, while a curved blade can be more effective at feinting, as the curve makes the direction of be blade harder to gauge than a straight blade.


You'll also note that the katana's edge is damaged by the end of the video, while the longsword's edge is not. There goes your every claim about sharpness and keeping an edge!

For one, where in the video do you see the longsword up close enough to have judge whether it had damage or not? You never see it close up, so you cannot make that judgement. And the damage seen to the blade of the katana is hardly substantial enough to effect its quality. If you think it is, you know little about how blades wear in battle!

You seem to be using the video I posted to attempt to support your conclusion, yet the video came to the opposite conclusions.

toapat
2012-09-04, 09:52 AM
*Snip*

How long is it going to take you to understand that the only way a Katana ranks highest on the list of swords is in Form. The katana is more of an artistic piece then a weapon of war, because of its number of vast inferiorities to the Western Arming/Longsword with cruciform hilt.

Being able to Sharpen a sword to a Mono-molecular edge is only as valuable as how well that blade can withstand a well resisted blow, which a Katana cant, ever. Sure, Katanas can really slice flying 9mm rounds in half without damaging themselves, on the other hand, a solid hit on real plate armor is going to splinter the blade, because the force applied to a katana travels through the spine, not the edge of the blade.

OracleofWuffing
2012-09-04, 01:53 PM
And their verdict for technical versatility is questionable at best, especially since it directly contradicts my own personal experience and is incredibly Eurocentric...
I can't think of a single katana-related point you've made that you've backpedalled on in some way. A contradiction to your own personal experience should be expected by now. As far as Eurocentric bias goes, yeah, sure, I'll admit any historical source is Eurocentrically biased, but that just gives me fair grounds to note your every claim against katanas are founded in Asian bias and equally untrustworthy.


A longsword, when glancing a target, due to its relative dullness, is not as likely to actually cut a target as the much sharper katana, thus less likely to kill or maim during a glancing blow.
Flesh is no weaker when you cut it one way than when you cut it another way. Furthermore, my teeth can cut through flesh (Heck, they'll even cut solid ice, like in your video). Either you are overvaluing sharpness, or I've got teeth as sharp as katanas. But better since they've been serving me for over 25 years without chipping.


For one, I never " suggest[ed] it's better to pierce through the plate with a katana and not thrust in between the kinks". It's always better to aim for the holes in armor. Especially if the armor is plate. And nothing I have said since has contradicted that point.
Y'just told us that piercing is how you beat plate and you just gave us a link to a video of folks thrusting into the broad of the plate just to prove your points.


One of the most notable and recognizable stabbing swords in history was the gladius. The gladius is a short sword. It's short because being short make it lighter, quicker, and reduced the energy dissipation when striking a target. ...
Huh, and its straight blade, with two edges, both of which come to a point at the end, have no impact at all on why it's so good?


As for your "lifting his hand" question, you seem to inexplicably have your causation backwards. His hands move upward more BECAUSE the sword flexes more, not the other way around. It's harder to keep your hands level when the blade you are striking with is bending like a wet noodle when it hits the target.
It's not about the level of his hands, his arms are lifting up. If the blade was flexing like a wet noodle, his arm position wouldn't matter after making the first strike.


Admittedly weapon length is a factor, but technique can always compensate for that, while a curved blade can be more effective at feinting, as the curve makes the direction of be blade harder to gauge than a straight blade.
Oh, well, in that case, the longsword user's technique can always compensate for your improved feinting, unbalanced blade, and shorter reach.


For one, where in the video do you see the longsword up close enough to have judge whether it had damage or not? You never see it close up, so you cannot make that judgement.
Just before the annoying guy hands the longsword to the old guy, you see a close enough shot of the tip to detect any major chips on the tip.


And the damage seen to the blade of the katana is hardly substantial enough to effect its quality. If you think it is, you know little about how blades wear in battle!
You're the one telling us that the katana won't lose its edge.


You seem to be using the video I posted to attempt to support your conclusion, yet the video came to the opposite conclusions.
The conclusion the video came to was, "In my book, the katana beats the longsword." It's conclusion is little different than someone saying "I like swords." Regardless of the conclusion, it's methods demonstrated certain points of interest, and those points of interest simply were not taken into consideration to form the conclusion, because the point of the show was to announce a subjective opinion quite loudly.

Exediron
2012-09-04, 02:40 PM
Now you two are getting just as bad as he is, passing off your own opinions and bias as facts. "The katana is more of an artistic piece then a weapon of war, because of its number of vast inferiorities to the Western Arming/Longsword with cruciform hilt." The katana was used as a weapon of war for centuries, as was the arming sword - they both work, or they wouldn't have lasted so long. And I'm not sure what Katanas you've been wielding, but in my experience they're a lot more balanced than most European swords, which often have short hilts and all the weight at the end to facilitate a powerful chop.

Yes, katanas are more brittle on the edge than most European blades - that doesn't mean they break as soon as you hit something. They have a strong reverse side for blocking, and they aren't meant for bashing armor anyway. Neither is the longsword. And if you tried to bite steel with your teeth (with the force of a sword hit), you'd better believe they would chip. Although on the subject of swords 'bending like a wet noodle', the katana is typically the more flexible of the two and is the one I would expect to bend if either did.

The katana is a slashing weapon. Most European swords are either thrusting or chopping weapons. If you compare them strength to weakness, you'll have an uneven match and one will lose. Neither sword is mystical and incredibly superior to the other. Neither sword is useless. They both cut people apart, they're both defeated by plate armor, and neither one will slash through steel. Unless any actual new discussion is introduced to this thread, I think we should have an end of the constant back and forth bashing-without-data of both weapons.

Spiryt
2012-09-04, 02:53 PM
And I'm not sure what Katanas you've been wielding, but in my experience they're a lot more balanced than most European swords, which often have short hilts and all the weight at the end to facilitate a powerful chop.



They didn't have "all the weight" at the end at all. This is just false. Majority swords tappered in thickness towards the tip, quite a lot too.

"More balanced" is pretty interesting term, I guess 'most balanced' would be a PoB right at the middle of the lenght...

Anyway, there's not much info available about balance of actual katanas, but they weren't any more hilt balanced than most other swords.

Their blades actually usually were still pretty thick towards the end, their spine tapering relatively slowly towards the kissaki.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-04, 02:59 PM
:sigh: There is only the slimest of differences in any two swords in actual combat effectiveness.

Cut is cut. If it's a "glancing blow" it's not going to kill anyone unless it hits a major blood vessel. No sword is particularly effective at piercing plate armor and, without plate, a thrust from -any- sword will penetrate the human torso.

The differences in forging technique, materials, and blade shape will all be trivial things in comparison to the skill of the wielder.

If either a katana or an arming sword is quantifiably better than the other, which I sincerely doubt, it's by such a narrow margin as to be irrelevant. Nevermind that "better" is subjective to the target, both in the sense of who you're swinging at and the sense of what part of him are you targeting.

Against a plate clad knight, my war-pick is "better" than both of your swords. So is my 20lb sledge hammer, that I use for breaking up concrete, for that matter.

Against an unarmored foe, any weapon that you're proficient with will be "better" if you're not particularly skilled in the use of a sword. The back-side of a claw hammer, a carpentry tool, will work just as well as any sword in piercing a man's skull, and it'll do a better job of punching a hole in a steel helmet, though it likely won't penetrate deep enough for an instant kill if the opponent is helmeted. It -will- cause severe bleeding, as do all head-wounds, which can lead to blood-obscured vision, a situation that is, for combat, as good as dead, since the helmet will make clearing your vision either very difficult or impossible.

TL;DR: Most anything with a handle will do for killing someone if you're determined to kill them, and any weapon or tool has its advantages and disadvantages over another in that capacity.

Exediron
2012-09-04, 05:03 PM
They didn't have "all the weight" at the end at all. This is just false. Majority swords tappered in thickness towards the tip, quite a lot too.

Of course they taper. Taper and balance aren't the same thing at all. European arming swords of the time period I believe we are discussing (c 1200) had much shorter hilts than a katana, and as such have the point of balance automatically farther forward from the hilt with the same blade length and weight. They were descended from such examples as viking swords, which followed this same trend as well.

Yes, 'all the weight' is an exaggeration.


"More balanced" is pretty interesting term, I guess 'most balanced' would be a PoB right at the middle of the lenght...

I was responding to your claim that the katana is an 'unbalanced blade', which is - to use your own words - just false. We aren't comparing it to a rapier here. And nitpicking doesn't help your argument either; we both know that in this context, balanced means an optimal balance point for combat use (whatever you may consider that to be) and not a technically even balance.


Anyway, there's not much info available about balance of actual katanas, but they weren't any more hilt balanced than most other swords.

Their blades actually usually were still pretty thick towards the end, their spine tapering relatively slowly towards the kissaki.

True. Most katanas don't do more than barely taper at all before reaching their point. However, at no point are they as wide as the base of an arming sword's blade, and they are shorter (as you frequently point out) in the blade while being longer in the hilt. Both of these factors bring the point of balance towards the hilt.

When you get right down to it, both have whatever balance the swordsmith gave them. Some arming swords were balanced more to the tip and some more to the guard - so where some katanas.

Also, I'm not sure why you think there's less information about the balance of actual katanas - combat specimens from that time still exist, much as with European swords.

mcv
2012-09-04, 05:57 PM
Katana are definitely superior to European longswords, which are really just sharpened clubs.
That depends entirely on your definition of superiority. European swords were designed for the European battlefield, Japanese swords for the Japanese battlefield. Katanas, and curved swords in general (like scimitars) are superior slicing weapons, which is mostly effective against unarmoured and lightly armoured targets, but not against metal armour.

European longswords were definitely not sharpened clubs. They were very well designed tools of war, very versatile in attack and defense. They are designed for techniques that you can't do with a katana or a club.


A katana is made of far superior materials. Its made of higher quality steel which has been worked to remove as much impurities as possible, and is made in a way (folded so that there are thousands of parallel layers that run the length of the blade to give it strength) that makes it far more durable than a European longsword as well as more capable of holding an edge without uncompromising the integrity of the blade. They are a higher quality weapon by the nature of how they are forged and the materials they are made of. And they are made that way to fulfill a purpose, which is a cutting weapon.
This is outright false. Until they could import European steel, Japan simply did not have access to the high quality steel that Europe had. The intricate forging techniques used for katanas were not unknown in Europe, they just weren't necessary. They are techniques for making high quality swords out of low quality steel. But Europeans had access to high quality steel, which made it much easier to make similarly high quality swords.


Katanas are superior weapons to a longsword. That's not just some nerd fantasy or an exaggeration. They are just MADE better.
This is a fantasy, created in the 19th century. While Japanese created a myth about how supernaturally good their samurai and their swords were, Europeans (who liked to see their modern fencing as the height of swordmanship) created a myth about how knights were brutes who hacked away without sophistication. Both are false. Knights were every bit as sophisticated fighters as samurai, and their weapons were very well designed for their purpose. The differences are mainly caused by different circumstances, different battlefields, and different resources (the quality and quantity of steel).

If you really want to differentiate between katana and longsword, maybe the longsword might have a defensive bonus, reflecting its design for parrying and rapid counter attacks, while a katana would probably do extra damage against light and no armour.



:sigh: There is only the slimest of differences in any two swords in actual combat effectiveness.

Cut is cut. If it's a "glancing blow" it's not going to kill anyone unless it hits a major blood vessel. No sword is particularly effective at piercing plate armor and, without plate, a thrust from -any- sword will penetrate the human torso.

The differences in forging technique, materials, and blade shape will all be trivial things in comparison to the skill of the wielder.

If either a katana or an arming sword is quantifiably better than the other, which I sincerely doubt, it's by such a narrow margin as to be irrelevant. Nevermind that "better" is subjective to the target, both in the sense of who you're swinging at and the sense of what part of him are you targeting.

Absolutely. However, there are meaningful design differences that do matter in the hands of a skilled user. If I'm not mistaken, katanas can make use of slicing techniques even at very close ranges, that would be impractical or impossible with a longsword, whereas the longsword, due to the crossguard and the second edge, is better at parrying and rapid counter attacks from unexpected corners. A katana, lacking a short edge, simply cannot make many common longsword attacks.

But neither is in all ways superior to the other, and the differences are hard to quantify accurately in a crude system like D&D.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-04, 06:54 PM
That depends entirely on your definition of superiority. European swords were designed for the European battlefield, Japanese swords for the Japanese battlefield. Katanas, and curved swords in general (like scimitars) are superior slicing weapons, which is mostly effective against unarmoured and lightly armoured targets, but not against metal armour.

European longswords were definitely not sharpened clubs. They were very well designed tools of war, very versatile in attack and defense. They are designed for techniques that you can't do with a katana or a club.


This is outright false. Until they could import European steel, Japan simply did not have access to the high quality steel that Europe had. The intricate forging techniques used for katanas were not unknown in Europe, they just weren't necessary. They are techniques for making high quality swords out of low quality steel. But Europeans had access to high quality steel, which made it much easier to make similarly high quality swords.


This is a fantasy, created in the 19th century. While Japanese created a myth about how supernaturally good their samurai and their swords were, Europeans (who liked to see their modern fencing as the height of swordmanship) created a myth about how knights were brutes who hacked away without sophistication. Both are false. Knights were every bit as sophisticated fighters as samurai, and their weapons were very well designed for their purpose. The differences are mainly caused by different circumstances, different battlefields, and different resources (the quality and quantity of steel).

If you really want to differentiate between katana and longsword, maybe the longsword might have a defensive bonus, reflecting its design for parrying and rapid counter attacks, while a katana would probably do extra damage against light and no armour.




Absolutely. However, there are meaningful design differences that do matter in the hands of a skilled user. If I'm not mistaken, katanas can make use of slicing techniques even at very close ranges, that would be impractical or impossible with a longsword, whereas the longsword, due to the crossguard and the second edge, is better at parrying and rapid counter attacks from unexpected corners. A katana, lacking a short edge, simply cannot make many common longsword attacks.

But neither is in all ways superior to the other, and the differences are hard to quantify accurately in a crude system like D&D.

While it's true that the differences in design will make one sword more suitable to certain techniques than the other, that doesn't change the fact that in skilled hands they're more or less equally effective over-all. If all the technique I'd learned were centered around a double edged blade with a crossguard I wouldn't be able to use a katana as effectively as a longsword, but I'd probably still have a fair chance of killing an opponent of equal skill, regardless of his weapon of choice. The differences aren't of overwhelming significance. I could still slash, parry, and thrust. The techniques just wouldn't be quite as clean in their execution. Same with the cqb techniques. I'd have to be careful not to let the longsword bite into my own flesh, but it'll still cut my enemy. Maybe it won't cut as deeply, but unless I was cutting something vital it wasn't going to be a kill anyway, and it'll still serve as a painful reduction of concentration and overall blood content of my opponent.

A sword is maybe better than a stick of the same length, depending on circumstance, but ultimately it's the warrior that makes the kill, regardless of what weapon he uses to do so.

And can we please stop talking about steel like it just comes out of the ground that way. Only very rarely does a source of iron yield steel without at least some metalurgical work. Iron is the raw material that swords are made from, turning the iron into steel is just one step in the process, though it's quite often a step done by someone other than the swordsmith.

OracleofWuffing
2012-09-05, 12:35 AM
Yes, katanas are more brittle on the edge than most European blades - that doesn't mean they break as soon as you hit something.
:smallconfused: I'm looking at a video someone- who claimed a katana holds its edge very well- linked to, where the edge is chipped after hitting something. Since I'm apparently doing it wrong, you tell me and my katana-teeth what I'm supposed to observe here.

Also, my tongue must be made out of platemail!

Yes, I have been fantasizing about how awesome teeth as sharp as katanas would be all day at work.

Exediron
2012-09-05, 01:44 AM
I hadn't actually watched the video. I'm doing that now so I can comment accurately on it. While it loads, I'll make my own observations.

I never claimed that the edge of a katana won't chip on contact with a sufficiently hard obstacle. I've chipped the edge of one of my own katanas cutting through an industrial staple that I didn't know had found its way into a cutting practice target. What I'm refuting is the claim that a katana will be ruined, or will break outright, on heavy contact with other steel. I'm not trying to argue the superiority of the katana here - I'm just trying to argue against the (in my opinion) false accusations brought against it to claim it as categorically inferior to its European counterparts.

***

Alright, I've watched the video. Now, bearing in mind that I myself own and prefer katanas - I think the video is suspicious at best. The differences demonstrated here strain credibility, particularly the ice test. I cannot believe that a properly sharp longsword of that size, swung with any real force or technique, would make no more impression than that on the ice. Also, the thrusting test - the dummy moves back noticeably more with the katana, which should not be the case if both were thrust with equal force.

I do find the leather cutting test more believable, however; longswords chop, katanas slice. The longsword produces very characteristic chopping damage on the armor.

All of that aside, however; the damage on the katana tip is worse than I would have expected, but in no way debilitating. I can say from definite experience that with the level of damage shown it could still both cut and stab (practice targets, at least) - it would just hurt a little bit more going in :smallsmile:

I don't think that anyone with any real credibility claimed that a katana holds its edge better than a longsword. There are claims that the typical katana is sharper on the edge, but thats a different question. However, I should point out that subjecting a katana (or any sword) to the abuse of thrusting straight at plate mail isn't what its designed for. As the man in the video says, the idea isn't to thrust through your opponents armor - the idea is to maneuver yourself to a position where you don't have to. Plate mail defeats any realistic sword technique; that's what its for. The katana only needs to hold its edge through the battle (and Japanese sword battles were typically brief) before receiving sharpening afterwards.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-05, 02:30 AM
FWIW, whenever I hear the phrase "keeps its edge better," I default to the notion that it means that with proper care it has to be sharpened less often.

In that sense at least, a harder steel does keep its edge better than a softer steel. That is of course without regard to chipping. A chipped blade needs to be repaired at the first opportunity, and checked for fractures on the spot if at all possible. A fracture blade is a broken blade waiting to happen, and good steel doesn't show its fractures readily.

TheOOB
2012-09-05, 02:38 AM
A sword is maybe better than a stick of the same length, depending on circumstance, but ultimately it's the warrior that makes the kill, regardless of what weapon he uses to do so.

That's true, to a point, but equipment is relevant. If I had to bet between a notice soldier with an arming sword, a shield, and chain mail, and a master samurai with a katana, I'd bet on the soldier every time. The katana could not penetrate the chainmail, would break if parried by the shield or sword, and honestly speaking, samurai combat techniques are not very good. Remember that the Edo period, the age of the samurai, was an era of peace and isolation, where the warriors cared more about honor codes and tradition than warfare.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-05, 02:55 AM
That's true, to a point, but equipment is relevant. If I had to bet between a notice soldier with an arming sword, a shield, and chain mail, and a master samurai with a katana, I'd bet on the soldier every time. The katana could not penetrate the chainmail, would break if parried by the shield or sword, and honestly speaking, samurai combat techniques are not very good. Remember that the Edo period, the age of the samurai, was an era of peace and isolation, where the warriors cared more about honor codes and tradition than warfare.

yeah.... no. The katana was produced throughout the sengoku period. Around a century of warfare honing the skills of the samurai as a group would produce the same level of combat skill that the century of constant warfare that was the crusades in europe would've produced there, albeit a bit earlier in world history. I wouldn't bet on the novice against an unarmed war-master of either knight or samurai pedigree. The novice will find himself disarmed, flat on his back with his own sword at his throat in fairly short order.

mcv
2012-09-05, 05:05 AM
That's true, to a point, but equipment is relevant. If I had to bet between a notice soldier with an arming sword, a shield, and chain mail, and a master samurai with a katana, I'd bet on the soldier every time. The katana could not penetrate the chainmail, would break if parried by the shield or sword, and honestly speaking, samurai combat techniques are not very good. Remember that the Edo period, the age of the samurai, was an era of peace and isolation, where the warriors cared more about honor codes and tradition than warfare.

You mentioned a master samurai, didn't you? It's not a lazy doesn't know how to fight samurai. Because with that match up, as much as I prefer European swords, I'd bet everything on the samurai. Yes, chainmail counts, but a novice soldier, with little training and no real combat experience, just doesn't know what to expect from a real fight. A real fight is fast. And that chainmail doesn't cover every inch of his body. His face, hands and legs are vulnerable, and a master samurai would know how to hit someone there.

And of course a katana doesn't break when it hits a shield. That's ludicrous.

Spiryt
2012-09-05, 05:20 AM
Of course they taper. Taper and balance aren't the same thing at all. European arming swords of the time period I believe we are discussing (c 1200) had much shorter hilts than a katana, and as such have the point of balance automatically farther forward from the hilt with the same blade length and weight. They were descended from such examples as viking swords, which followed this same trend as well.

Yes, 'all the weight' is an exaggeration.

Tapering will be on of the main thing affecting balance, so it's important here.

And arming swords had shorter hitls because they were one handed. Because their blades were in 99% cases vastly different in shape etc. hilts lenght is one of the last things that would cause the difference, other thing would change perceived balance before.



I was responding to your claim that the katana is an 'unbalanced blade', which is - to use your own words - just false. We aren't comparing it to a rapier here. And nitpicking doesn't help your argument either; we both know that in this context, balanced means an optimal balance point for combat use (whatever you may consider that to be) and not a technically even balance.


True. Most katanas don't do more than barely taper at all before reaching their point. However, at no point are they as wide as the base of an arming sword's blade, and they are shorter (as you frequently point out) in the blade while being longer in the hilt. Both of these factors bring the point of balance towards the hilt.

Rapier actually tended to have point of balance quite far down the blade as well.

Generally comparing katana to 'arming sword' doesn't really work either, seeing as those were one handed swords.



Also, I'm not sure why you think there's less information about the balance of actual katanas - combat specimens from that time still exist, much as with European swords.

And data about their weight is rarely disclosed - let alone weight 'details' such as point of balance or more detailed mass distribution.

They're mostly described by dimensions of different parts.

elonin
2012-09-05, 08:25 PM
Most real Katanas in the real world would be a bit short of being a true long sword for two reasons. Unless custom made for a westerner (or factory junk) they would have been sized for the purchaser. So if you have normal american/euro sized arms they would be too short for you. Also long swords do not have the curve and Katanas do.

Most dm's i've played with have used masterwork bastard sword stats to approximate Katanas, which seems OK to me with the tests that have been conducted showing the higher damage potential vs long swords.

Zadhadras
2012-09-05, 09:43 PM
NO. Sharpness is very effective to the use of a sword. But most swords are not made to THEMSELVES handle sharpness. They either can't hold an edge or they break. Sharpen a longsword to the keenness of a katana, it will cut way better. However, it will snap in half the moment it comes into contact with another weapon. A katana can have in excess of 1600 parallel layers of steel in the blade. It can HOLD a keen edge, which is why it can cut through anything but plate armor like butter.*

No. Longsword has superior metallurgy to Katanas, being through hardened martensite blades. Folding does not make a blade stronger, it actually makes a blade weaker due to microscopic imperfections between the folds. But if you had poor steel, its neccessary. European smiths were employing the folding techniques and other techniques of pattern welding long before the Japanese, and abandoned them once Europe could mass produce decent quality steel from blast furnaces.

Katanas could not cut armour, and certainly would not penetrate stiffened leather, scale armour or mail. I would love for you to go onto Sword Forum International and Sword Buyers Guide webforums, where antique sword collectors and swordsmiths go and make that claim.


Furthermore, longswords could be sharpened to the same level as a katana, held very keen edges, were the same weight as a katana, but had better handling due to the way weight was distributed on the blade. They could indeed cut a torso in half with a single blow, and somewhere on youtube is a guy with a longsword (and, an injured shoulder I might add) cutting a deer torso in half.

Zadhadras
2012-09-05, 10:00 PM
However, you are horrible wrong with the regards to a katana's quality. The Japanese where one of the first cultures in the world to make and use STEEL. Katanas are steel weapons, and in the height of the Middle Ages steel was more common in Japan than it was in Europe. The first steel in Japan was usually meteoric. However, the Japanese were one of the first to developed ways to roughly replicate meteoric steel. Furthermore, the very technique by which a katana is forged forces a large amount of impurities out of the metal, generally increasing its quality. Combine with the fact that the forging technique makes the blade incredibly strong compared to any blade of similar thickness, katanas are incredible well-made weapons.

No. the Japanese came late to the steel making game..Europeans and Mainland Asians had been making steel for many centuries prior to the Japanese. Japanese steel making was actually quite crude compared to the sophisticated metallurgy elsewhere.



Plate was as you put it a "Walking Steel Coffin" and it almost made the wearer invincible to anything but the bludgeoning effect of a weapon (the reason longswords stayed around and why maces became all the rage). You didn't PIERCE plate with a sword. Your sword was even more a cub against plate, because thats what it was plate is for, immunity to all but the most well placed piercing and slashing damage. You killed plate armored knights by other means. You used a pike or a bill to punch through the armor using the weight of a knight's own charge. Or you riddled him with arrows from a longbow, crossbow, or recurved bow (how the English won at Agincourt). Or you dehorsed him, disarmed him, and stabbed him through the holes in his armor while he struggled and failed to stand up (palte is heavy and that's what a stiletto is for, also the origin of the term "chink in the armor"). Or you danced around him until the sun and his oven suit killed him. But you didn't stab him with a longsword. Or cut him. You'd need at least zweihander for that, and it'd still be tough. Because that was the point of plate. And that is why the advent of gunpower weapons so thoroughly destroyed the legacy of the mounted knight.

1) Plate armour weighed around 65 pounds. In fact it weighed less than the classical o yoroi. It was finely articulated with the weight balanced and distributed on the body evenly. You can do backflips and summersaults and jump on your horse in it.

2) Zweihanders aren't used to attack men in armour. No sword can cut plate. period.

3) Longswords aren't used to bash. Longswords are designed to cut flesh. When a sword armed man fought another heavily armoured man, he used his sword like a small spear, thrusting with the tip into joints and grappling with it. The only part of a sword that is used like a club is the crosspiece.



Furthermore, you ignore the fact that full plate doesn't really come to Europe until the 15th centuries. The height of plate was the 16th century, yet the Japanese are historically considered to be the most imposing warriors in the world in those days anyway!!

By whom?

mcv
2012-09-06, 04:30 AM
1) Plate armour weighed around 65 pounds. In fact it weighed less than the classical o yoroi. It was finely articulated with the weight balanced and distributed on the body evenly. You can do backflips and summersaults and jump on your horse in it.
There are of course a lot of variations of plate armour. Gothic jousting armour could be quite a bit heavier, but that was never used in actual battle. That's the source of stories about knights being unable to stand up in armour, though.


2) Zweihanders aren't used to attack men in armour. No sword can cut plate. period.
Zweihanders were specifically used to break up pike formations. Around the end of the middle ages, pike formations started to dominate the battlefield, and there was no effective counter to it. Landsknechts with Zweihanders was one of the few things that might work, but it was a highly specialized, very dangerous, and very well paid job. Zweihanders weren't exactly common.


3) Longswords aren't used to bash. Longswords are designed to cut flesh. When a sword armed man fought another heavily armoured man, he used his sword like a small spear, thrusting with the tip into joints and grappling with it. The only part of a sword that is used like a club is the crosspiece.
Specifically, holding the end of the blade and using the crossguard to attack (as a kind of ace or warhammer) is called the Mordhau (murder-strike) in historical manuscripts. It's obviously not a normal way to fight, but when the other guy is on the ground and still practically invulnerable, the Mordhau could be used to disable him.

A more common anti-armour technique for the longsword is half-swording: the left hand grabs the middle of the blade, and then you stab at vulnerable places (arm pits, visors, any gap between the plates). Or you use the sword to wrestle him to the ground so you can use the Mordhau.


By whom?
By people who believe in Japanese sword mysticism.

Matthew
2012-09-06, 05:03 AM
Most real Katanas in the real world would be a bit short of being a true long sword for two reasons. Unless custom made for a westerner (or factory junk) they would have been sized for the purchaser. So if you have normal american/euro sized arms they would be too short for you. Also long swords do not have the curve and Katanas do.

People come in all shapes and sizes, as do long swords and katana. It is kind of like saying the gladius is a bit short of being a true short sword because they were made for Italians, who by their own accounts were shorter than the Gauls. That apparently did not stop the latter from wholesale adoption of captured Roman equipment, if I remembering rightly.

Zadhadras
2012-09-06, 06:48 AM
The reason the Katana was shorter was simple..its a much handier size for a man on foot to carry around with him. When the Samurai were primarily horsemen, they used a larger sword with a more pronounced curve, and this is the sword they used for most of thier fighting history. Later on, they needed a handier size of weapon, so the smaller Katana became the sword of choice.

Zadhadras
2012-09-06, 06:51 AM
There are of course a lot of variations of plate armour. Gothic jousting armour could be quite a bit heavier, but that was never used in actual battle. That's the source of stories about knights being unable to stand up in armour, though.

Aye, but the heavier jousting armour was never used in battle. No one would be dumb enough to wear armour in battle that was so heavy.

Spiryt
2012-09-06, 07:27 AM
The reason the Katana was shorter was simple..its a much handier size for a man on foot to carry around with him. When the Samurai were primarily horsemen, they used a larger sword with a more pronounced curve, and this is the sword they used for most of thier fighting history. Later on, they needed a handier size of weapon, so the smaller Katana became the sword of choice.

While there is observable trend of swords getting shorter, it's not really very noticeable...

In shinshinto period swords still are around 70cm in blade lenght, 80cm blades not being unheard of at all.

Alejandro
2012-09-06, 07:54 AM
No. the Japanese came late to the steel making game..Europeans and Mainland Asians had been making steel for many centuries prior to the Japanese. Japanese steel making was actually quite crude compared to the sophisticated metallurgy elsewhere.




1) Plate armour weighed around 65 pounds. In fact it weighed less than the classical o yoroi. It was finely articulated with the weight balanced and distributed on the body evenly. You can do backflips and summersaults and jump on your horse in it.

2) Zweihanders aren't used to attack men in armour. No sword can cut plate. period.

3) Longswords aren't used to bash. Longswords are designed to cut flesh. When a sword armed man fought another heavily armoured man, he used his sword like a small spear, thrusting with the tip into joints and grappling with it. The only part of a sword that is used like a club is the crosspiece.




By whom?

Thank you for injecting some sense. :) I have personally worn a pretty fair recreation of plate armor for a battlefield recreation/reproduction event. It weighed around 60 pounds. Once it's put on correctly (this is one thing squires were for, it's hard to get this crap on by yourself) you can move around, sit down, stand up, run, jump, and generally do what you want. Yes, you can get up from a prone position.

The downsides are a little less flexibility and manual dexterity with the hands (depending on what and how much you are wearing on them) and being really friggen hot, and possibly difficulties with relieving yourself. :) And being noisy and shiny, I guess.

Two handed swords were for attacking pikemen, as has already been stated. They could also be used against armored enemies, but more likely as a reversed strike, which has also been mentioned. Generally, footmen of any weapon type tried not to be where the heaviest armored enemies were, because they were usually on horses and charging at you, which was very bad for you. :)

Exediron
2012-09-06, 02:11 PM
The reason the Katana was shorter was simple..its a much handier size for a man on foot to carry around with him. When the Samurai were primarily horsemen, they used a larger sword with a more pronounced curve, and this is the sword they used for most of thier fighting history. Later on, they needed a handier size of weapon, so the smaller Katana became the sword of choice.

Another reason is of course the draw-cut; if you can't draw the sword to its full extension in one motion, your Iaijutsu is certainly going to suffer. The Japanese were (to my knowledge) the only warrior society who placed any significant emphasis on the art of drawing the sword in combat; all the others with which I'm familiar tended to assume you already had the thing drawn. A shorter blade draws faster, so its an advantage in some situations.

I imagine that a lot of this has to do with the way they were used - katanas were often used in duels or small engagements, while most European swords were assumed to be used on a battlefield, where everyone would already have their weapon out.

Incidentally, for much of their fighting history the Samurai actually used a really big bow.

Spiryt
2012-09-06, 03:02 PM
I imagine that a lot of this has to do with the way they were used - katanas were often used in duels or small engagements, while most European swords were assumed to be used on a battlefield, where everyone would already have their weapon out.


Actually, manuals, judicial duels rules, etc. are all suggesting that swords were used in small engagements frequently.

Swords are in most cases going to be used that way, they're personal weapons. In battlefield, lance, some polearm, and so on would be usually obvious choice.

Trough pretty much whole High Medieval period, some swords made seemed to be pretty much strictly civilian, while other pretty much battlefield, but mostly they were somewhere in between.

endoperez
2012-09-06, 04:19 PM
Another reason is of course the draw-cut; if you can't draw the sword to its full extension in one motion, your Iaijutsu is certainly going to suffer. The Japanese were (to my knowledge) the only warrior society who placed any significant emphasis on the art of drawing the sword in combat; all the others with which I'm familiar tended to assume you already had the thing drawn. A shorter blade draws faster, so its an advantage in some situations.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=qWtEBW8cmAo#t=73s

That's a demonstration where a longer blade draws faster. There will be a limit at some point where you can't draw a long blade any more, and it might be easier to draw a shorter blade, or faster with equal skill. Which brings me to another point... if your main weapon is unwieldy, wouldn't it be possible to just have a second, smaller weapon with you?

Which is one of the explanations for the daisho practice. It seems to have started with swords longer than katanas.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-06, 04:52 PM
A trend I'm noticing in this thread, that I find a touch disconcerting, is that only samurai of the edo period seem to be represented.

Samurai did exist in the sengoku period, even if it's not the version of samurai that the word calls to western minds thanks to modern fiction, and these samurai were closer in function to a battlefield knight.

That is, they were heavily armored warriors, typically on horseback and wielding polearms. Many if not most were also proficient with the longbow toward the end of the sengoku period, though the spiritualization and widespread practice of kyudo was more a hallmark of later periods, IIRC.

It's somewhat innacurate to compare the katana and samurai to only rennaisance era knights. You really need to compare them to warriors and weapons of the eras just before the rennaisance as well.

On a personal note, I don't think it would be innapropriate to compare the samurai of the sengoku period to european and middle-easter crusaders either. Since the sengoku period and the crusades were fairly similar portions of their respective histories, even if they were removed from each other by a couple centuries.

Beowulf DW
2012-09-06, 09:35 PM
On a personal note, I don't think it would be innapropriate to compare the samurai of the sengoku period to european and middle-easter crusaders either. Since the sengoku period and the crusades were fairly similar portions of their respective histories, even if they were removed from each other by a couple centuries.

Well, perhaps not, but one must remember that the Crusades were two cultures fighting each other, not one feudal state fighting another as in Japan. I think it would be better to compare the Sengoku period to the Middle Ages in Europe, when there was always some petty war brewing between lords and kings.

mcv
2012-09-07, 04:31 AM
Well, perhaps not, but one must remember that the Crusades were two cultures fighting each other, not one feudal state fighting another as in Japan. I think it would be better to compare the Sengoku period to the Middle Ages in Europe, when there was always some petty war brewing between lords and kings.

The middle ages were quite a long period, though. From about 800 to 1500 (though you can argue for centuries about the exact start and end centuries). There are enormous differences between knights of various periods and countries.

Whichever way you turn it, you're comparing apples and oranges.

Matthew
2012-09-07, 07:05 AM
It is interesting to note the samurai or bushi class emerged in a similar way to knights and at a similar time.

Beowulf DW
2012-09-07, 10:50 AM
It is interesting to note the samurai or bushi class emerged in a similar way to knights and at a similar time.

That is a similarity that always intrigued me. There are so many parallels between the European and Japanese feudal cultures. Two warrior classes that rose to prominence and the admiration of all, two codes that dictate what a knight should do and what a samurai should do. Even certain customs bear similarities. For instance, a samurai would offer his sword to his lord with the sharp edge facing the samurai, as a sign of fealty and loyalty. If the lord wanted to, he could take the sword and kill the samurai with little trouble. A knight would offer his lord the hilt of his sword with the point facing the knight, such that if the lord wanted to, he could run the knight through then and there. The gestures say the same thing: "I'm pledging my loyalty and my life to you. I trust you not to simply through it away."

Sturmcrow
2012-09-07, 11:14 AM
It seems like this thread has got way of course though I am happy to see that plenty of other people do not fall into the Samurai Sword Super Mysticism school and hold it on a pedestal. I know for some they like to focus on another culture but sometimes they raise up Katanas/Samurai/etc to some inhuman level so it makes me thrilled to see people knowledgeable about European military practices as well.

Kelb_Panthera
2012-09-07, 11:14 AM
That is a similarity that always intrigued me. There are so many parallels between the European and Japanese feudal cultures. Two warrior classes that rose to prominence and the admiration of all, two codes that dictate what a knight should do and what a samurai should do. Even certain customs bear similarities. For instance, a samurai would offer his sword to his lord with the sharp edge facing the samurai, as a sign of fealty and loyalty. If the lord wanted to, he could take the sword and kill the samurai with little trouble. A knight would offer his lord the hilt of his sword with the point facing the knight, such that if the lord wanted to, he could run the knight through then and there. The gestures say the same thing: "I'm pledging my loyalty and my life to you. I trust you not to simply through it away."

Kinda says something about how little difference there really is between two races of people, don't it?