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A spatha counts as?

posted Feb 10, 2013 12:46:28 by chryckan
Been browsing through the weapon list and I just can't find an entry for a normal average sword like the spatha, the viking sword or the arming sword.
They are one handed and shorter than the long sword and with a slightly more narrow blade than a broadsword (unless you count the baskethilted sword). They are also longer than a short sword, in fact they're the reason why the term short sword exist.
Plus only the short sword has a milliue rating older than medieval.
So none of the sword entries seem to fit the bill.

Have I missed something?
Cause it seems like a weird omission not to include the run of the mill sword while including more specialized swords like the scimitar, falchion and the long sword.
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22 replies
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DanTrue said Feb 10, 2013 13:35:26
The reason for the omissions is because from a game perspective they are fairly equal. I regularly fence historical, so I realise that there are significant different between a Spatha / Viking Sword (those are fairly equal) and the Arming sword - namely the hand guard.

But, in the terms RQ6 uses to describe weapons with, they would end up with the same size, reach, ap/hp, Combat Effects and Traits. As the differences are not significant enough to warrant unique entries, they are all simply "Broadswords".

With the other types - falchion for instance - there are actually a measurable damage difference, which can justify a seperate entry.

- Dan
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chryckan said Feb 10, 2013 14:07:15
The reason for the omissions is because from a game perspective they are fairly equal. I regularly fence historical, so I realise that there are significant different between a Spatha / Viking Sword (those are fairly equal) and the Arming sword - namely the hand guard.

But, in the terms RQ6 uses to describe weapons with, they would end up with the same size, reach, ap/hp, Combat Effects and Traits. As the differences are not significant enough to warrant unique entries, they are all simply "Broadswords".

With the other types - falchion for instance - there are actually a measurable damage difference, which can justify a seperate entry.

- Dan


I didn't mean that each of them should have their separate entry but that I could not find an entry for a weapon to represent those types of sword.
But weird terminology aside, if those count as broadsword then how come the milliue rating for broadsword only cover M-E.
That type of sword has existed since the bronze age.
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DanTrue said Feb 10, 2013 14:26:40
I agree that the Milliue is a bit weird, as the Spatha was around long before, so it probably should be Ancient. It isn't the biggest deal however, as the milliue is simply to guide GMs in their choices of available weapons, and it might be a typo.

But yeah, changing the Broadsword to "Arming Sword" or simply "War Sword" with a milliue from A-I, would make sense.

- Dan
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 16:29:52
I'd assumed they were treating earlier swords as falchions, but there may be a problem with that I'm not seeing.
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DanTrue said Feb 11, 2013 17:28:39
I don't think so, it would make no sense. A falchion is, similarly to a (cavalry) sabre, scimitar and a messer, single-edged. That results in more kinetic power transferred to the victim. The blade is curved, which means that it gets an cutting effect which for straight swords the wield must manually ensure. The result is that Falchions / Late sabers / Messers hit much harder and do more damage than ordinary swords.

Earlier swords on the other hand - Gladius and Greek swords, Northern Bronze age swords etc. are almost all impaling weapons. Early on - for instance with the Scandinavian bronze age swords - is simply because of technology. You couldn't make a bronze age sword in Denmark 800 BC that would be able to hold against a parry - and almost all your enemies would be wielding spears or perhaps stone or bronze axes anyway - so it was unnecessary. The result was that the swords were designed to heavily rely on the thrust - you can see this both in the blade design, the weight of the blade and in the size of the handles / counterweights on the pommels.
The same is true for the Gladius and Iron Age swords, but here it is rather as part of a combat style than an inability to design cutting swords. And the Gladius was used to cut - primarily against angles or other unarmoured parts. But the wooden handle and lack of balance clearly suggests that the Gladius was designed for powerful thrusts.

Sorry, that became a bit long. But it means that the Falchion in no way represents earlier swords :) These are instead represented by the shortsword. So if you're running a Roman Game, translate the Shortsword to Gladius and the Broadsword to Spatha.

Could the weapon list be longer, with alternative names for various periods, or simply more entries to make a bigger difference between a 3rd Century A.D Celtic sword and a 13th century Arming Sword? Sure, it could - but as with everything, it is a tradeoff between focus, extensibility (Hold the though until Arms & Equipment or something similar comes out) and space.
Plus, you can model a large bit of it using Combat Style Traits. For instance, the falchion may both represent a 12th Century French Falchion used in the crusades AND a 15th Century Civilian Messer used in a Fechtschule - but if you're designing a combat style which focusses sorely on the latter, you simply call it "Messer" in the weapons list, giving them some suitable trait.

Wow, that became even longer.

- Dan
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 18:28:09
Appreciate the answer, Dan.

I'll be interested to see if Pete cares to weigh in on this one.
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PeteNash said Feb 11, 2013 20:28:03
Just treat a spatha or a viking sword as a broadsword, it is just a question of nomenclature (we can't include every historical version in the book). Functionally they are the same, a straight, mid-length double-edged blade.
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chryckan said Feb 11, 2013 20:31:06
Just treat a spatha or a viking sword as a broadsword, it is just a question of nomenclature (we can't include every historical version in the book). Functionally they are the same, a straight, mid-length double-edged blade.


In truth it wasn't really the name as the milliue setting that threw me...
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 20:40:12
In truth it wasn't really the name as the milliue setting that threw me...


That's the same reason I'd assumed they'd lumped earlier longswords (in the general sense) in with the falchion...
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PeteNash said Feb 11, 2013 21:22:38
"In truth it wasn't really the name as the milliue setting that threw me..."

Sorry about that. Unfortunately if I'd juggled the milieu to start with Ancient, we'd probably have received ten times the comments about Broadswords not existing in the pre-medieval period. The trouble is that there's no good word for (medium length, double edged) sword which spans the entire period. The name always changes with region, culture and date. So Broadsword was chosen as the best middle ground.
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 21:26:21
I suspect "longsword" would have worked for a lot of people (by obvious opposition to "shortsword") but since you used that for the technical term for a more specific kind of weapon, you were stuck.

Maybe something generic like "warsword" would have been better, even though its a more or less invented term.
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PeteNash said Feb 11, 2013 21:43:43
"I suspect "longsword" would have worked for a lot of people (by obvious opposition to "shortsword") but since you used that for the technical term for a more specific kind of weapon, you were stuck."

Sorry? The term longsword has always been used for European hand-and-a-half or two handed swords of the medieval and renaissance period. A spáthē or spatha is literally the name for a "broad bladed sword".
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thomas5251212 said Feb 11, 2013 21:49:53
Pete, you're too close to the problem. For most gamers, a longsword is just a longer sword than a shortsword. I'm well aware that its a technical term for the weapon you describe, but that matters to most end users about as much that a morningstar isn't strictly the right term for a ball and chain flail.

That's why I suggested an invented term; then you wouldn't have had to worry about terminological nitpickers because the term had no historical baggage.
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lawrence.whitaker said Feb 11, 2013 22:17:12
Okay.

Time out.

Or I'll lock the thread.
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PeteNash said Feb 11, 2013 22:21:40
"Pete, you're too close to the problem. For most gamers, a longsword is just a longer sword than a shortsword. I'm well aware that its a technical term for the weapon you describe, but that matters to most end users about as much that a morningstar isn't strictly the right term for a ball and chain flail.

That's why I suggested an invented term; then you wouldn't have had to worry about terminological nitpickers because the term had no historical baggage."

...and if I'd mistakenly utilised 'Longsword' as a spatha/vikingsword/broadsword the historical nitpicks would be a hundredfold greater. An invented term would have been even worse, since then nobody would have been able to identify the weapon supposed to represent a normal sword.

If you think I'm making that up, then Loz and I can vouch for the (seemingly endless at the time) number of enquiries about what a 'War Sword' was, when we did in fact use the term in the previous version of RuneQuest we wrote. The decision to use the term Broadsword came about explicitly because of that.
[Last edited Feb 11, 2013 22:22:51]
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