Tag Archives: pirates

Q&A: Pirates, Vikings, and More Pirates

hello! i wasn’t sure who to ask + i noticed you’ve answered some pirate questions before. my story’s set in a fantasy universe made from scratch. firearm is just being invented, it’s very popular yet. so i wanted to ask, do you maybe know how real pirates were armed/what they fought with before the firearm came into use?

The firearm wasn’t really, “invented,” in one moment. The technology evolved over the course of nearly 800 years. When you’re talking about Age of Sail pirates, they were using weapons that had seen four centuries of technical refinement.

Maritime raiders have been a threat since humans first took to the seas. The term itself has a Greek root, dating back to Hellenic Greece. Worth noting that peirates was used to refer to both seaborne and land based raiders. (This would later become pirata in Latin.) So the modern distinction between a bandit and pirate didn’t exist until more recently.

Bronze age piracy in the Mediterranean included a bustling slave trade, where sailors and other individuals captured by pirates were sold in major ports. This was aided by the rugged, Greek coastline, which was effectively impossible to fully scour. Beyond this, Hellenic pirates were, effectively bandits.

Arguably the most famous group of maritime raiders are the Vikings. Viking raids started in the 8th century AD, and continued into the early modern era. They were spurred by a variety of factors, and there’s no full consensus on exactly what caused their rise. Elements include the Medieval Warm Period, from 950 to 1250, Europe experienced an increase of average temperatures by almost two degrees C. This is believed to have spurred a population boom in Scandinavia. Combine this with a primogenitor inheritance system, which meant only the oldest son inherited from their father, and there was a strong need to bring in new resources to support a family. Raiding predates the MWP, so it seems plausible that this simply fueled existing behavior. This also resulted in Vikings aggressively colonizing elsewhere in Europe, as they found more favorable land and claimed it for themselves.

One example of this legacy is Normandy. The territory that became Normandy was given to a Viking Raider named Rollo by King Charles the Bald, after Rollo besieged Paris in 911. In exchange for swearing vassalage to the Frankish king, he was granted the territory. He effectively became the first Duke of Normandy, though, it’s unclear when that specific title came into use, as he never used the title Duke.

Piracy in the Caribbean was fueled by massive amounts of wealth moving through the region, and simple logistics.

Defending a set position is easy. You can fortify, dig in, and wait. At that point, the hardest part is avoiding boredom. This is a little harder when that point is somewhere you can’t fortify, but the same principles hold.

Defending a moving target is harder. You know the path it will take, and you can do some work to control potential risks. However, you’re going to have to go with the target. Knowing where you’re going will give you some cues on when you need to be alert, but ultimately, you need to be there.

Defending multiple stationary points is easy, if you can split your forces. However, in doing so, you’re less able to hold each one individually. It becomes a balancing act. In a modern situation you can rely on a highly mobile “floating” defensive force, which can be called in to deal with any defensive position coming under attack, which helps offset some of the problems, but this was not an option in the Age of Sail.

As a quick aside, having a small reserve force who can quickly reinforce your forces as needed can be incredibly valuable from a strategic position in battle. It’s only as part of a larger campaign, where they don’t have time to get where they’re needed in time to be useful, that this becomes less viable.

Defending multiple mobile targets from multiple threats, while still needing to defend ports. Yeah, that’s extraordinarily difficult. Mix in that European forces didn’t have full repair and refit facilities in the New World, that many different governmental and economic groups were operating in the area, and you should start to see why the Caribbean was a hotbed of pirate activity in the 17th century.

Simply put, there was a lot of money moving around, and no real way to protect it.

In an odd moment, the guns weren’t entirely important. They were in the specifics of how the European powers got a foothold in the Americas, but it was basically irrelevant to the reasons that piracy flourished there.

So, if you’re asking, “what did pirates look like before the invention of the firearm?” That’s the Vikings. Really. The firearm reached Europe in the 12th century. The pirates you’re thinking of were in the 17th. From the 12th century to now, the technology has never stopped advancing. Even now, firearms developed in the last 20 years are incorporating new technical developments that aren’t present on Cold War era armaments. The chemical composition of primers and powder has changed significantly in the last century.

I’m not averse to the idea of a fantasy setting without firearms, but I would strongly recommend against thinking that a culture would go from discovering gunpowder, to making a wheel lock in a matter of years. This would also create a situation where most characters simply wouldn’t know what they were dealing with. Even just getting everyone on board with what a gun is, without access to mass communications, could easily take decades or longer. Also, worth noting that new technology in firearms tended to be pretty expensive. It’s possible that, for whatever reason, firearms are just transitioning from vanishingly rare to widespread use, due to production changes. Not exactly new, and people would know what they were. This saves you from the basic problem of your characters dying like idiots when they get shot by that guy waving a funny looking club around.

-Starke

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Hi! I’m not sure if this qualifies as a ‘fight’ question, but I’ve run out of places to go for help. So if you answer, I really appreciate it. Fantasy world. MC, trained military, is trying to plant a tracking device on a pirate airship. He originally hid the tracker in a lure of special cargo. Events happen last minute that force him to keep the tracker on his person and get it aboard the ship that way. My problem is, how he-or me as the writer-get him to be taken prisoner. Thank you so much.

Well, he’s on a pirate ship and he’s… not a pirate.

Here’s something to know about pirates or anyone who spends lots of time alone in a small enclosed space: they know each other. In particular, pirates are rather loose and democratic organizations. They’ll know if they’re taking on new crew, and they’ll know who that crew is. If he’s found aboard their ship (and he will be), he won’t be able to pass himself off as one of them.

Criminals who run successful raiding operations aren’t stupid, especially those who’ve managed to keep at it for any length of time and are difficult to track. They live outside the law, they are outside its protections, and they know what the punishment for their capture will be. (Usually, it’s death.) This goes for every single member of the crew, not just the captain or their leader. Pirates generally get treated as stupid in vast swaths of media. They’re not. They’re smart. Many of the pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy were ex-navy of one sort or another. Many of the pirates making up this crew will be former sailors trained by a branch of the same military your MC comes from. They know what a military man looks like. Their survival is dependent on avoiding authority, and tackling those isolated targets they can successfully take. A criminal needs to be able to spot a policeman, including one in plainclothes. Their ability to continue operating depends on it.

So, how does this guy get captured?

He’s not a pirate, and hasn’t convinced them that he’s their new recruit. (At this point, he can’t. Too short on time. Too late. They’ll know who their new crew are.) He’s trapped in an enclosed space, aboard a ship, that is probably in the air if he able to stay hidden after they took off (as they’d almost certainly slit his throat before leaving if they found him). He has nowhere to go, no way to get off that doesn’t involve encountering enemy pirates who will recognize him as a stranger and an enemy.

He’s going to be taken captive. There’s one of him, and many of them. The only question left is how to get him out of the situation, instead of falling to his death by many thousands of feet when they chuck him overboard.

The real question for you is not: how is he taken captive? It’s: what reason do they have to keep him alive?

If he’s really lucky, he ditches the tracker before they find it on him and can make up a believable story. If he’s sort of lucky, they chuck the tracker overboard and lock him in the brig. If he’s super unlucky, then he’s going over the side and it’s “goodbye, MC”.

Stowing away is not an act with a lot of great career options ahead.

If you’re really having trouble coming up with ideas, I’d take a step back and go research pirates. You’re shortcomings here are based a lack of understanding for your MCs opponents. If you have a character getting caught, then the actor is the enemy. Those are the characters you need to focus on. It’s easy to assume that one character (the main character) is the driving force of all action, and because you (the writer) are most closely associated with them you see most of the situations from their perspective. However, this will catch you when you’re trying to write fight scenes or any kind of story action that relies on other parties to drive your story forward.

Spend some time with your villains. Figure out how the pirates function, how they work, what their command structure is (if they have one, lots of pirate ships were democratic with their captains voted in), and how they’re functioning. If you’re basing these pirates on the Golden Age of piracy, it might behoove you to look at history. The behavior of the pirates was often a direct response to the military/naval organizations of the time. The British Navy, for example, was well-known for being tyrannical and naval captains were given carte blanche over their crew. The Chain of Command was god, and their word was the ultimate law. It didn’t matter how mad, nightmarish, or suicidal the choice may be. If you ended up with a sadist as an officer, there were few appeals and you were at their literal mercy. The rules were strict. Many pirates were sailors fleeing that abusive lifestyle.

Take some time to figure out how your pirates function, how they live, what their ship looks like, etc. If you’ve gotten stuck, it’s usually because you’re focusing on the wrong characters. Spend some time with the ones who discover your MC and take him captive. That should get you back on track.

-Michi

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How does one get better at fighting with a sword? I have a female character who was formally trained in swordfighting (being a noble heir) though she has a lot of room for improvement. I want a timeskip in which she trains and afterwards (is 6 months reasonable?) she is challenged by a pirate captain who has years of experience and talent in combat. She is going to lose and he isn’t aiming to kill her. How would the fight play out realistically?

Realistically? She won’t kill him, her guards will. (She won’t even get close to him and his challenge is meaningless.)

This is the most important thing to remember: a female noble heir is the social and economic future of their household, if your pirate captain takes her then he gets to claim her which is the equivalent of stealing Alabama, Alaska, or California. Now do you think for a second her guards or her family will allow that to happen? (The answer is no.)

If you’re using pirates, then you’re probably pulling from the Golden Age of Piracy for inspiration, so between 1650 and 1726. It’s important to remember than aristocrats in any period before the 19th century were not decorative. Today, we (Americans especially) have a habit of confusing the echoes for the gunfire. We view the nobility and royalty like CEOs and other really rich people instead of what they really were: warlords, an important part of their nation’s command and control structure. Nobles were taught to fight because they needed to be capable of defending themselves from the peasantry, from other nobles, and from attempts at political assassination. Your heir is probably living in a period where she is expected to know how to fight because someone else is going to try to kill or kidnap her. While we’re talking about a period in history where the importance of the nobility was ending, it wasn’t there yet. Fencing as recreation hadn’t quite taken hold yet and your heir’s education is going to be for realities of the world she’ll be facing. This is also a period in history when training with live blades was not uncommon.

Nobles engaged professional swordmasters as members of their households to teach them and their children. Your girl is likely to have had a fencing blade in her hand by the time she was six years old, the standard training age for an aristocrat. It’s likely she was trained on a variety of weapons, but depending on your time period her main sword is likely to be either a rapier, an epee or another variant of smallsword, all of which will turn your pirate captain into Swiss cheese before he can say “what’s that?”. She’ll possibly also know how to use a longsword (still saw battlefield use) or a heavy saber (as opposed to the later lighter version of the fencing blade) as a cavalry blade, she’ll have been trained to use it from horseback in case she was ever called to military service by her monarch. If her family employs a professional duelist to fight for her father or mother in case of another noble challenging the family, she might have also trained with them. If her family doesn’t have the money or the family patriarch prefers to handle to duels themselves, it’s likely she was grilled by them regularly. As the heir, she’ll be under direct scrutiny from whichever figure is managing her education and training to ensure she can do her job when she eventually inherits management of the household/estate.

The problem here is that you’re thinking about this in terms of her not having any practical combat experience and conflating the 18th and 19th century nobility with the 16th and 17th century is a terrible, if common, mistake. Unless your pirate captain is a former member of the gentlemen class or noble class then the weapon he’ll be using is likely to be the cutlass, which while a fantastic weapon for boarding actions, is horribly outmatched by both the epee and the rapier when it comes to dueling. They’re both longer (reach and speed advantage) and faster (substantial speed advantage) and in the hands of someone who knows how to kill with them. Weapons are a great equalizer, your heir doesn’t need to be exceptional to kill him, she’ll be armed with the better weapon for the situation and has the knowledge to know how to use it in practical combat. Even if she’s armed with a longsword, she’ll win.

Here’s your first real issue: you’re conflating all types of combat experience together while ignoring the separate skill sets and types of experience. A pirate captain is going to be experienced in ship to ship combat and boarding actions, his exceptional talent is the handling of his crew and his ability to command. This is what he needs to be good at in order to maintain his position. Dueling is not going to be his focus, he may excel at dueling other pirates both with pistols and with swords but the question is who is he dueling? The caliber of your opponent does a lot to enhance skill, so does having the luxury to devote the necessary time to developing that skill. A boarding action is a mass melee, it’s not a duel. Even if he’s used to fighting multiple enemies, it’s going to be in fighting back to back with the support of his crew. His most common opponents are going to be other pirates, most likely drunk pirates, while on shore leave.  This doesn’t leave him a lot of time to come up with the skill necessary to hand a noble their ass in a one on one. A duel with your heir is going to end up looking a lot like Edmond Dantes’ first duel with Ferdinand in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002). Your pirate is Dantes, she’s Ferdinand and she’s got less reason to play nice. (It’s worth noting Ferdinand isn’t even considered an exceptional duelist and, at this point in the movie, he’s just got the advantage of his training.)

Now, he could be a former naval officer or son of a merchant with a business in overseas trade. However, this would mean he comes from either a wealthy merchant family or the middle/upper class. At this point in history officers were still expected to buy their commissions which meant ships were largely commanded by the rich/gentlemen and the sailors/grunts were pulled from the poor/uneducated.

The second issue: Heirs are incredibly valuable, incredibly valuable. Female ones especially because they are the means of carrying on your bloodline. A lot of effort and work by the head of the household goes into the heir because they are the economic and socio-political future of the family. Heirs are not allowed to engage in the same sort of risky business that a second or third child can get away with. A fairly decent modern comparison is Prince William versus Prince Harry, both are in the military but only one gets to fight on the front lines. Now, you can disinherit the heir to ensure that their progeny/new husband cannot claim their titles and lands but you lose all the effort that went into them in favor of (what is likely to be viewed as) a substandard second aka the spare. So, again, it would be like stealing Alabama and she doesn’t have the free time to run off for a weekend cruise with a strange man unless she’s intending to throw away everything anyway (and no one is going to let her).

Second to the Family Head, the Heir is the most well-defended member of the family. They’re not getting out of the house without an escort, these men (and women) will be among the most loyal and skilled men (and women) the house has at their disposal. She’s not going to go anywhere without them and has probably known them (somewhere between four to six) all her life. They may know her better than her parents do, they’re always there, and they will defend her with their lives. Not being a noble, your captain has no ability to challenge her directly even if she challenges him. He is going to have to go through them to fight her and they aren’t going to bother with a duel. They’re not going to fight him one on one, they’ll fight him together. He’s outnumbered and fighting better trained opponents (it’s going to be either three on one with one guarding the girl or four on one with two guarding the girl), so he’s dead.

It’s important to remember that a bodyguard’s job is not to do what their protectee wants, it’s to do what is best for them and ensures their safety. It’s their job to keep them alive, not to keep them happy. She’s not the one paying their salary, her parents are, and even if she was it wouldn’t make a difference. While her guards are fighting him, the other one (or two) will hustle her somewhere else to keep her safe.

Third Problem: In attempting to take her anywhere, he has shown he means her harm. Whether it’s to kill her, ransom her, or claim her as his wife is irrelevant, whether he actually intends any of those things is irrelevant. From her perspective, that of her family, and her guards, he intends her harm and if she’s forced to fight him then it will be to the death. Remember, these are threats she faces from the other members of her country’s nobility. She’s primed to respond to any threats to her person with deadly force and so are her guards, all of whom are likely to face much more talented combatants from their own class than the pirate captain. She has a vested interest in being better at combat than him and she will be because nobles are not sheltered fragile flowers who have the luxury of using money instead of force to protect themselves. The French Revolution was successful because of the number of peasants and the willingness to bury the aristocrats in bodies (which was what it took). It wasn’t because they were better warriors.

Let’s Recap:

Do Not Steal California: Heirs are valuable and important people, stealing them is a lot like stealing the ownership of a state. Lots of people are bound to try it and there are reasons their families take steps to ensure they won’t succeed.

A Rapier or Epee versus a Cutlass: both weapons have a reach advantage over a cutlass and are much, much faster. The pirate captain’s brain will not be used to fighting at it’s speeds and in a single unarmored bout, it will be over in one or two hits. In fact, historically the epee is so fast that it resulted in multiple double suicides during duels which is part of the reason we switched to fencing with blunted blades.

Nobles Are Not Decorative: Unless we’re discussing nobles in the 19th (excluding Russia), 20th, and 21st centuries then an aristocrat’s position was fraught with danger. Even in the 18th century when they were heading toward being obsolete, nobles were very dangerous individuals who faced a great deal of danger in their everyday lives both from the peasantry and members of their own class.

Depending on Context All Combat Experience Is Not Created Equal: while there were pirates who were very skilled duelists this was usually a skill they cultivated during the time before they became pirates (as members of the gentry). Pirate Captains needed to be skilled in naval combat, interpersonal skills, leadership, and other skills relating to raiding, theft, and seafaring leaving little time to focus on skills unnecessary to their general lifestyle.

Where the Heir Goes, The Guards Follow or Lead: A noble’s guards are never far away, they travel in packs and it’s their job to defend their master from harm. Getting through them to the protectee isn’t easy and the protectee is unlikely to thank you if you do.

Swords are made for killing: intentions are great, but swords are made for killing. The better the opponent, the less likely the option of not killing. With faster weapons, it becomes very easy to kill accidentally or a wound may become infected leading to death.

Think Leia, Not Gossip Girl: I didn’t actually throw this one out there in the above, but personality wise, you’re better off looking at Princess Leia (especially Leia from A New Hope) as opposed to modern day rich girls like Blaire Waldorf and Serena Vanderwoodsen. Think about Leia’s response to Han and Luke’s rescue attempt on the Death Star, particularly the part where she takes charge and shoots the Stormtroopers. Feisty yes, but also intelligent and capable of taking care of herself. They provide her with the opportunity to escape, but she’s more than able to act for herself when the moment comes and patient enough withstand the indignities and torture inflicted on her by Vader and Tarkin to wait it for it. She’s also all business once she gets out and is much better at providing direction than the boys are at finding it.

In short, he’s dead.

A solution: as fun as the concept of the Princess and the Pirate is most of your problems could be solved by removing the heir part from the equation. If writing a lazy layabout who isn’t interested in real work is your angle with this character then it’s best to go with a member of the family who has the unfortunate luxury of being a strain on finances simply by virtue of their birth. The third child or a bastard the Father/Mother/Family Head refuses to get rid of who gets all the privileges, none of the responsibility, and who the family doesn’t care enough about to take an active interest in their protection or their training will have a much better shot of doing what you want without all the messy complications. They also have a much, much better shot of being in a place where they and the pirate will actually cross paths. Younger children have a much higher likelihood of leaving the country to seek their fortunes or being in less savory places. (Do not have the pirate break into their house, homefield advantage is huge and estates/castles are designed to be deathtraps for invaders. Don’t do it, you can’t have a fight there without drawing twenty or more guards.)

A solution to the sword problem: they’re drunk. Your character is at a low point in their life, they’re in a bar feeling their failure, and they’re drunk when they challenge the pirate. This gives the pirate the luxury to feel sorry for them, you can subtly handicap their actual skill level, and give them the opportunity to grow as a person and a combatant without jeopardizing all the advantages a noble has access to.

Some Reading Suggestions/Historical Figures:

Julie La Maupin: The life of Julie La Maupin could quite literally fill any swashbuckling novel to rival the tales of Alexandre Dumas, her stories however have the advantage of being real. This brash, deadly, bisexual cross-dressing swashbuckler bucked the times and society to carve her own way in 1600s France.

Gurps: Swashbucklers, Roleplaying In The World of Pirates and Musketeers: The Gurps books tend be great reference material and this one is a great overview of everything you need to write about pirates and swashbucklers. It covers the history surrounding pirates and musketeers, the notable historical figures, the socio-political climates of the times, and pretty much everything else you’re going to need to build your setting.

The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. While not a book about pirates, this novel (and the others by Dumas) will be helpful for getting into the frame of mind to write about swashbucklers and nobles. It gets closer to a period when the nobility was still considered relevant and treats them that way.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emma Orczy (1903), the foundation for superhero literature and secret identities, this is the novel that inspired Zorro and subsequently Batman. It follows the adventures of wealthy Sir Percy Blakeney in his adventures rescuing individuals sentenced to death by the guillotine during the Reign of Terror. In England, Percy presents himself as a dim fop to throw off suspicion that he (along with a band of merry friends) is the Scarlet Pimpernel, daring escape artist, master swordsman, and outside the box thinker. If nothing else, it’s a fun adventure novel read.

The Errol Flynn Collection: The Seahawk and Captain Blood especially, but I suggest a general review of the Golden Age Swashbuckling films.

The Mask of Zorro, The Count of Monte Cristo, anything with fight scenes choreographed by Bob Anderson for the spectacular sword work which may give you ideas.

Wikitenaur: pretty much the best resource for historical fighting manuals if you want to go outside modern fencing to get ideas for your fight scenes. You will have to slog through some older language, some of the manuals come with plates and translations. Others don’t.

Get a manual on fencing. Even if you don’t plan to take up fencing yourself, a manual for beginners will be helpful for getting the basic ideas and terminology down.

While I wouldn’t recommend Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag for it’s historical accuracy (cringeworthy, especially the way it messes with and reduces the awesomeness of some very incredible historical figures) or it’s combat accuracy (also cringeworthy), it’s ship combat is a lot of fun and may help you get into the right mood for when it comes to the fun side of pirates. This depends if you want to shell out for the price tag. The same is true of Pirates of the Caribbean. Decide what pirate theme you’re going with, compare Jack Sparrow with Peter Blood for reference and do some research into historical figures to help you with your captain. If you’re doing a gender equal setting, feel free to research and export the considerations for male nobility onto your female noble.

Have fun!

-Michi

Pirate anon for one last clarification! And I much appreciate all your time and effort into me! The blades are parallel to each other on the -same side- of the hilt. So it is used like a normal cutlass but with two blades separated by an inch or two. Really, thank you. In case you were wondering why it seems I’ve done zero research on this, my pirate exists in a steampunk universe! Really, thank you so much for this blog and your time.

You’re basically talking a bifurcated blade and those get broken because they’re not structurally sound. If they are going to work, they’ll have to be made out of a “special” metal like adamantium or orichalum or something. While it may sound like a good idea, the character would have a great deal of difficulty going on the defensive with the weapon. Another character could probably break the blades fairly easily. The sword would also be much heavier and imbalanced, making it slower against other enemies using lighter, quicker blades. The fencing blades are devastatingly effective, so that brings us back to the question of why he’s using the blade at all if it’s not going to give him an advantage and more likely to get him killed

Even if you’re doing a fantasy or steampunk setting, research is important. To understand how to build your own separate world, it helps to look at the real one. Depending on how close your setting is to the time frame you’re pulling from, then the more accurate you’ll be expected to be. It’s also worth remembering that history is full of crazy stuff that people did or invented (like the gunblade) to try to give themselves an advantage. Much of Steampunk is drawn from the Victorian Period, so your readership will expect you to know about and be accurate to the Victorian Period. If you don’t have a grasp of the technology and politics at play in the Industrial Revolution and the Victorian Era, then Steampunk could be a problem for you.

It’s the little details like underwear that will really get you.

-Michi

Hi it’s the dually cutlass anon again! And I think there was a mistranslation on my part. He’s not carrying two separate blades, it’s a singular sword with two cutlasses on the hilt, running parallel to each other. Thanks for that important info by the way!!

Don’t do the Darth Maul thing, the Darth Maul thing only works because lightsabers don’t get caught on anything and you can shut it down. Given that your character is going to be fighting in such tight quarters on a ship or in a siege, he’d be just as likely to stab his own soldiers or friends as he would the enemy. He would also have a great deal of difficulty pulling the blades back out of the enemy. Staff weapons require a fairly large amount of space in order to be wielded effectively and because the blades are so long and the hilts so short, he would have difficulty bracing effectively or using spear tactics.

A pirate does not have a lot of space in which to wield their weapons. This is why single edged weapons such as the cutlass and the saber were the weapon of choice aboard ships, there was less chance of the weapon getting knocked back into your own chest if someone overpowered you or in the flurry of excitement of boarding an enemy ship. There were better weapons available at the time than the cutlass or the saber, but they were a greater risk to wield in such extremely tight quarters.

This weapon of his would also have to be specially made by a blacksmith and that’s a fairly large expense for a weapon that’s likely to get him keelhauled by his buddies.

Give him a normal cutlass, a pistol, and a rifle with a bayonet. Do some research on the weapons of the time. While the gunsword was not an effective weapon, it was a rather ingenious attempt at one. It pops up during the Golden Age of Piracy. So, if you really need to give him a “special” weapon, give him that one. It’s at least historically accurate to what people were using. Yes, it is ludicrous but it’s real.

-Michi

I asked about the feasibility of a dual-bladed cutlass as an anon earlier, and am sorry if I over complicated the question! Here’s a rephrasing: Is this a doable weapon in a melee situation like a siege on a town? What are some possible downfalls and advantages to a weapon like that in the hands of a military-esque trained pirate? Thanks again for your time!!

It’s not really doable to wield two at the same time and a military-esque trained pirate (like a former officer of the British Navy) would most likely be wielding a saber instead of a cutlass. You can dual wield in fencing, but that’s using a long dagger and the second weapon is meant for defense. You can also fence with a small shield. Dual wielding swords, unless they are short swords like the butterfly knives/swords of Wing Chun, is a bad idea because the blades get in the way. Unlike escrima “sticks”, where you don’t harm the weapons by banging them into each other during early training, a swordsman is more likely to harm and be hampered by the length of the weapons when striking, the weight of his weapon in his offhand, and is at risk for destroying them when he clangs them together. Your character will have better speed, dexterity, and striking power with just one.

Edward Kenway fights with two sabers because the game is, I guess, trying to make a point that he doesn’t really know what he’s doing and that shows in his style when compared to Ezio or Altair. However, your military-esque pirate would probably carry four pistols and those would be more useful to him. Pirates carrying multiple pistols was also a real, historical fact. Edward’s fighting style is actually hampered by the fact he’s carrying two. The Assassin’s Creed IV doesn’t make a point of that though. You will notice, though, that Edward commonly uses the offhand weapon for defense.

There’s a bad habit in Hollywood and games where it’s believed that two weapons used together equals more skill or more offense. I personally blame D&D, but the second free hand is important for balance, used for distraction, has more dexterity, and creates better openings than a second blade. Also, and this is important, your pirate would not carry two swords. Why would he carry two swords when he could carry a pistol and a sword at the same time?

This is important logic.

-Michi

Reminder: Real Pirates Were Awful

Reminder: Real Pirates Were Awful