Fantasy Armoury: Swords

I love swords. Love them. Swords are to fantasy as walls to a castle. You need your swords to battle dragons, usurpers, knights and wizards. So lets go into the armory and learn about swords.

Anatomy of a typical sword

  • Crossguard: This is the part of the sword between the hilt and blade. This protects the hand.
  • Blade: The sharp end, duh
  • Hilt: This is the part you hold. Also called a grip.
  • Pommel: the end of the sword attached to the hilt. This can be decorated as you like.
  • Fuller: this is a hollow running up the sword. Debates go on whether it is made to reduce suction or make blood run off quicker or to make the sword more dynamic.
  • Edge: the sharpened sides of the blade. Can be singular or double.
  • The point: The pointy bit at the top. Stick them into the person (jon snow logic)

Types of Swords

  • Claymore: This is the Scottish Gaelic version of the Great Sword. It is a heavy sword with a long reach
  • Longsword: Medieval and Renaissance weapon commonly used with with two hands.
  • Bastard sword: It is a cross between a long sword and a great sword because it is a half a foot extra. It belongs to the Longsword family of swords.
  • Gladius: an ancient Roman blade used by gladiators and then legionaires. There is no crossguard. It is also called a shortsword. Made for stabbing rather than slashing.
  • Xiphos: double-edged, single-handed sword used by ancient greeks. The blade is commonly leaf shaped made for slashing.
  • Sabre or Rapier: This is a slender blade used by fencers. This blade might not be able to hack a head but its light weight makes the blade an asset in speed.
  • Katana: The Japanese samurai sword. This is single-edged and the blade is hammered thin. Made for speed and deadly sharp.
  • Scimitar: a curved blade with a singled edge.

Sword Moves

  • Advance – to attack, going forward.
  • Deflect – engaging sword with your own and pushing it away
  • Empty Fade – jumping backwards as if to retreat then attacking.
  • Front Guard – the sword is held in front of your face.
  • Full Iron Gate Guard – the sword is halfway between your legs, angled right.
  • Half Iron Gate Guard – the sword is held before your left leg.
  • Lunge – leaping forwards while feet are in the same stance.
  • Pass Back – moving your front foot into the rear position.
  • Pass Forward – moving your rear foot into the front position.
  • Pivot – Rotating 180 degrees, keeping dominant foot stationary.
  • Retreat – a movement backwards.
  • Shed – to allow a sword to slide away off your sword.
  • Short Guard – the hilt is at your hip and the point is forward.
  • Step Across – Rotating 180 degrees, crossing feet and spinning.
  • Tail Guard – the hilt is at your hip and the sword is behind you.
  • Two Horn Guard – pommel is at your chest with the sword pointing out.
  • Window Guard – a guard where the hilt is at your ear and the sword points forwards

Things to remember about swords

1. When drawing your sword, the scabbard is on your opposite hip.

2. If a sword is two-handed, use two hands. Don’t try be cool. You will cut yourself.

3. Swords are sharpened using a whetstone and polished with oil clothes. Water rusts them. Look after your swords.

4. Swords can stick to to scabbard if the air is icy. To prevent it, you can line your scabbard with leather.

5. Practise with a blunted sword first. Blunt swords are used in tourneys.

6. Defense over Attack. Better to defend rather than attack.

7. Shields are your friend in defence but hamper your ability to attack.

8. Sword to size. Smaller and weaker swordsmen(women) can’t any wield heavier swords. Bulkier and stronger swordsmen(women) can wield heavier swords. Match sword type to body type.

Since this is an instructional post – “…lets go into the armory and learn about swords

” it needs a few tweaks and corrections.

Anatomy of sword –

Hilt: This is the part you hold. Also called a grip. 

Nope. The hilt is called the hilt and, as the diagram shows, is everything that’s not the blade. The grip is part of the hilt. The hilt is not part of the grip.

Fuller: this is a hollow running up the sword. Debates go on
whether it is made to reduce suction or make blood run off quicker or to
make the sword more dynamic. 

Nope. Debates do NOT go on, except among people who don’t know or care that they’re over. Swordmiths have always known what the fuller is for. It’s to reduce blade weight while increasing blade strength. Even then it’s worth noting that a lot of very efficient swords – the Roman gladius for one – didn’t have fullers. Anything involving “suction” and “blood” – including calling the fuller a “blood groove / gutter” though the term is still used – is nonsense.

It belongs in the same rubbish-bin as swords cleaving armour on a regular basis, swords cleaving stone unharmed unless there’s an in-story reason*, and swords “too heavy for modern men to lift” – something often mentioned in the same sort of books that claim medieval people were smaller and weaker than moderns…

*Examples of in-story reasons include:

(1) Stormbringer in Michael Moorcock’s “Elric” stories, which wasn’t a sword but a sword-shaped demon.

Keep reading

About C.A. Jacobs

Just another crazy person, masquerading as a writer.
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