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Author Topic: Sword myths, help me out  (Read 40520 times)
Valamir
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« Reply #90 on: June 29, 2004, 07:38:38 PM »

I suspect that what seems to us to be a great variety of different and interesting swords, seems so only because we are seeing an entire collection covering generations.

For any given region at any given time I suspect in the main you simply had "a sword".  It was different from the swords a century earlier and would be different from the swords a century to come, but in that place at that time...that's what a sword way.

I suspect that period people would refer to regional variations simply by the region...a Spanish Sword vs. a Frankish Sword vs a Baden Sword...and to size variations simply by an adjective.

I imagine that period people really did at some point say the words "broad sword" where "broad" was simply an adjective as in "he drew a broad sword" as opposed to Broad Sword as a proper noun.  It would have simply meant "a sword with a blade broader than the common ones around here"

I suspect that knights or warriors would refer to blade style by the smith who forged it "I prefer a good Smithson blade to those of Weatherby...the Weatherby's are too light" in periods where sword makers were common enough to provide a choice.

The differences between them I would guess were spoken of descriptively like "that blade is in the old style like my grandfather wore", or "make me a sword with a more rigid blade and a thicker cross section"

I think it likely that only when you enter into the field of collecting does it become necessary to identify classes of blades and assign a specific label to it.
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Tash
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Posts: 284


« Reply #91 on: June 29, 2004, 07:54:39 PM »

Makes sense.  Being used to modern replica swords I easily forget that real swords were each unique items made for a specific person (usually, I suppose it wasn't unheard of for a rich nobel to comission a batch of swords for his troops).  Given that they probably didn't have names and model numbers like weapons do now.
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Eamon
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Posts: 32


« Reply #92 on: June 30, 2004, 05:12:29 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Of course, the existance of the "broad sword" is itself a myth.  There is no such actual weapon outside of D&D and museums still relying on 19th century categorization.


Joking aside, Valamir, you are dead wrong here.

Old Gygax himself named the average sword in D&D the longsword.  In 3rd edition you can even use it two handed if you want.

It is the more 'historically accurate games' such as Ars Magica, GURPS, RuneQuest, and umpteen other post-D&D games that used the name provided in Victoriana.

Something which caused me no small amount of confusion when at age 15 reading Romeo & Juliet whatshisname called for his 'longsword'.  That was way back in the early 1980s and we had just switched from AD&D to Runequest.  I remember looking up from the text in 10th grade and saying to Mrs Cross, 'Why is Shakespeare using the wrong term?'.

Sigh.  That is a dark secret I've kept ever since.  After over 20 years it has finally seen the light of day!
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Eamon
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Posts: 32


« Reply #93 on: June 30, 2004, 05:14:22 AM »

Quote from: Tash
So what, if any, is the correct term for those things commonly called "basket hilt broadswords".  Are they a cut and thrust?  A smallsword? Something else?

Curious because I see the term a lot yet also hear that the name broadsword wasn't used until the 18th or 19th century....so what did the people who used them actually call them?


AFAIK, the term "basket hilt broadswords" didn't appear until the Museam guys started categorizing swords some 150 years ago.  The people called them slang terms such as 'hangers' and 'swerds'.
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Valamir
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« Reply #94 on: June 30, 2004, 05:26:42 AM »

I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.
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Eamon
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #95 on: June 30, 2004, 05:28:00 AM »

Before we go any farther, let me tell you about stage fighting.  I know this guy, who choreographs stage fighting, and he says that it is a really effective method of self-defense.  The actors often tell him that after learning it for a show, that they feel confident of their safety in potentially dangerous situations!

When the ninja conquered China they kept it secret, because, you know, they are secret types!  When the Americans first came to Japan they infiltrated the Navy ships, went back to the US with the fleet, and then took over the government!  If you think about it, that so explains flouride in the drinking water, they are secretly poisoning us!

Did you know that a single ninja could take out a modern American rifle squad?  Put them on opposite sides of a football field under any weather or lighting conditions and the soldiers are toast!  Sure, the americans have rifless and bombs and machine guns but the ninja has stealth, ninja magic, and his ninjato!

When guns came onto the battlefield, armor disappeared overnight!  One day people wore armor, the next day it vanished!  Then people took the armor piercing rapiers and really got fencing into an art.  The epees we use in fencing are exactly like the rapiers of Shakespeare, so if we went back in time, I could kick butt with my 1337 fencing skillz!

I read this book once, about these scientists who figured out how to go back in time to Aulde Englande.  They did so and one of them was a fencer.  He took his foil with him and kicked the butts of these stupid knights and their 90 pound swords!  Fortunately he didn't run into any wandering samurai because then he would be toast.

If you have at least a brown belt in karate then you don't need to be afraid of people armed with melee weapons.  We had this guy show up once.  Just once.  We never saw him again after he was taught the fallacy of this claim.  We did the magic-marker on white t-shirt trick using the newest person in the class.

Ueshiba of Aikido fame could so kick the butt of Silver of Paradoxes of Defense fame.  Silver was just a brawler because they don't have martial arts in the west.  And Ueshiba, besides being a crack aikido and ninja master of the martial arts, had total control over his chi!
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Eamon
Member

Posts: 32


« Reply #96 on: June 30, 2004, 05:30:57 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.


Oops.  Forgot about that broadsword from AD&D1e.  Still, no one used it because of its dorky damage range and I think Gygax added it as an afterthought.  I think its clear he didn't know about it until while making the AD&D1e weapon catalog he ran into the fact that other games had the broadsword and his game didn't.
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tauman
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Posts: 65


« Reply #97 on: June 30, 2004, 07:56:28 AM »

The problem is that Gygax never really specified what a longsword is (and what a broadsword is). We always assumed the longsword was an arming sword used by knights, but then I remember reading somewhere that he had more of a "Cut & Thrust" type in mind. Either way, the sword nomenclature in AD&D is whacked. I guess Silver's shortsword would be a broadsword in AD&D.

I did see the use of the term broad sword in an Anglo-Saxon (i.e. Old English) history of either the battle of Maldon or the battle of Brunanburg. Something like "he took up his broad sword" (lit. 'brad sweord', or something similar). However, I wouldn't call it a formal term. Rather, it seems to be a descriptive term used for effect. Given the rules of Anglo-Saxon verse, the author might have even used the word to insure that the stress fell in the right place.

Steve

Quote from: Eamon
Quote from: Valamir
I'm not sure what you're talking about Eamon.

AD&D1e had Sword, Broad as a weapon. it did 2-8/2-7 as opposed to the 1-8/1-12 done by the Long Sword.

Expert D&D didn't identify any sword types other than short, normal, and two handed...which ultimately was far more realistic than AD&D's catalog approach.


Oops.  Forgot about that broadsword from AD&D1e.  Still, no one used it because of its dorky damage range and I think Gygax added it as an afterthought.  I think its clear he didn't know about it until while making the AD&D1e weapon catalog he ran into the fact that other games had the broadsword and his game didn't.
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toli
Member

Posts: 313


« Reply #98 on: June 30, 2004, 08:10:00 AM »

I believe basket hilt swords are cut & thrust swords in TROS terms.  Small swords are like little rapiers.
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NT
Vagabond Elf
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Posts: 23


« Reply #99 on: June 30, 2004, 01:31:33 PM »

"Short sword" is a fun one too.  My WMA meister uses late 1400's & early 1500's terminology mostly, so what he calls a short sword is what ROS calls an arming sword.  But in the 1500's it was shorter than the other swords being used - longswords, greatswords, rapiers.  So it's correct from that persepctive.

Of course, it causes me all sorts of headaches, because I have to remember to apply "shortsword" to an arming sword size blade in class, and to a TROS-type short sword with my friends.  (My class, by-and-bye, refers to the TROS-type short swords as a gros messer, or big knife.)

An intersting thought on the cross-hilt's design is something I found in John Clements, whose books are in the bibliography for the core rules.  He says that the purpose of the cross-hilt was not to protect your hand from the enemy's blade when you blocked his cut.  Instead, it kept you hand fromsliding forward onto the blade, kpet his blad from sliding into your hand when he blocked you, and kept you from breaking you knuckles when he blocked with a shield.

Here's a myth to debunk - the gladius was a Roman Liegionairre's main weapon.  It wasn't - it was his sidearm.  The pilum, or spear, was his main weaon.  (I can't source this, though, as I've forgotten where I learned it.)
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toli
Member

Posts: 313


« Reply #100 on: June 30, 2004, 01:59:30 PM »

[quote="Vagabond Elf
Here's a myth to debunk - the gladius was a Roman Liegionairre's main weapon.  It wasn't - it was his sidearm.  The pilum, or spear, was his main weaon.  (I can't source this, though, as I've forgotten where I learned it.)[/quote]

The interpretation I've always read gives them different tactical roles, not necessarily main and secondary roles.  The pilium was more of a javelin whose purpose was to break up opposing lines allowing the sword wielding soldier to head into the breach.
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NT
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #101 on: June 30, 2004, 02:06:48 PM »

Actually, it depends on what legion, and what time period. But to be precise, the pilum was thrown before contact, the intent, interestingly, to have it get embedded in the enemy shields so that they'd be too heavy to lift. In fact, the heads of pilums were made intentionally soft and bendable, so that they would tend to stick at odd angles and also to make them unthrowable back at their enemies.

They were not a pirmary weapon. When it came to actual fighting, they sword was used. Gladius, OTOH, is just latin for sword. So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.

I think that you may be confusing greek phalanxes with Roman legions. In that case, the spear was primary, and swords were secondary.

Mike
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Valamir
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« Reply #102 on: June 30, 2004, 06:40:32 PM »

Quote from: Mike Holmes
So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.


Quite.  

The actual name for the weapon we all know as the gladius is gladius hispaniensis.  Hispania being, of course, Spain.  So the sword that the legionaires used was simply known as "the Spanish Sword"...or more accurately "the sword we adapted from the kind they used in Spain".
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Salamander
Member

Posts: 450


« Reply #103 on: July 01, 2004, 12:57:35 AM »

Quote from: Valamir
Quote from: Mike Holmes
So when there's a picture with a Roman sword labling it a gladius, it's just saying that it's a sword, and not really indicating that particular style.


Quite.  

The actual name for the weapon we all know as the gladius is gladius hispaniensis.  Hispania being, of course, Spain.  So the sword that the legionaires used was simply known as "the Spanish Sword"...or more accurately "the sword we adapted from the kind they used in Spain".


I believe you may have missed two. ;)
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"Don't fight your opponent's sword, fight your opponent. For as you fight my sword, I shall fight you. My sword shall be nicked, your body shall be peirced through and I shall have a new sword".
Dain
Member

Posts: 125


« Reply #104 on: July 01, 2004, 01:15:29 AM »

Don't know if this qualifies as a sword myth or not, nor if what I've been told is correct, but here goes:

Myth: The crease running down the middle of a blade (commonly called a blood rib) has the purpose of preventing your weapon from getting stuck in your opponent's body when you thrust it into him. According to the myth, supposedly that groove somehow allows air to draw in as you draw the weapon out, thus defeating the "vacuum" normally experienced as the opponent's flesh seals in around the blade. Supposedly without that rib your weapon would get stuck in your opponent and you'd have a major problem pulling it out.

Actual purpose: Not sure because I've been told multiple stories about that too, some or all of which may be myths as well. One person said it was purely ornamental. Another person said that it was an unintentional result of forging that was caused by compressing that is done to the blade along it's length to increase the hardness. I've also had people swear for all they are worth the vacuum story is true too.

Personal belief: The vacuum story sounds unlikely as flesh is very gelatinous and would conform to the blood rib as well, not leaving an air groove at all, but sealing within the groove just as tightly as around the rest of the blade...so that one sounds unlikely at best. Not knowing the actual forging process, the compression idea sounds possible, but dubious as hardness is usually determined by carbon content and the folding process...so I'm going to go with ornamental. Anyone know the real answer (and have a source to support it)?
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