Mass Answering:

So one of my characters is a farm boy who has always dreamed of becoming a Protector (sorta like the Elite Police and Military of the world) and he gets to go to a school for them at this point in the story. He has worked on the farm his whole life and none of his family members have any military experience. What kind of fighting style would he have and what weapon would he use?

He would use whatever it is that the Protector trainees use and trained in what the Protectors do. Modern Military and Police units in first world countries have standardized training practices. He’s probably not being asked to provide his own gear and weaponry, he’s also not going to be the only farmboy looking to escape his background.

My advice is this: sit down and figure out whether you want the Protectors to be police or military. They can’t really be both. A country’s military is about protecting it’s citizens from outside invaders, the police focus on keeping the peace. To quote William Adama (who is probably quoting someone else), “When the military becomes the police force, the citizens become the enemy.” The only place these two are really going to overlap is in oppressive Fascist regimes and Military Dictatorships.

There’s a lot of great literature, media, and how to books out there covering both police academy training and military boot camps. But your best bets are going to actual documentaries. Netflix has a pretty decent selection of documentaries covering different types of military training and youtube also has good videos (verify what you find).

-Michi

How much overlap is there between the skill set of a thief and that of an assassin? Could a character be both? You’ve mentioned the differences in outlook – could you expand a little further?

The basics are this:

A thief targets something.

An assassin targets someone.

Professional thieves (I’m assuming you mean cat burglars not muggers) don’t generally like to leave dead bodies behind them because it jumps up police interest. They might be forced to kill, but getting away clean with no one the wiser is going to be their basic priority. In a literary or media sense think any good heist movie ever. You want to get away with the object without anyone noticing it’s missing, preferably they never notice. This is where the mentality of thieves and spies overlap. The most valuable information is the information the enemy doesn’t know you have.

Comparatively, an assassin takes the thief mentality of getting away clean and adds in the bonus level of murder. When an assassin plans to get away clean, it means they get away without anyone being able to identify them. While they are tied to a good exit strategy, they’re planning only goes so far as getting themselves away.

A thief has to find a way to move their stolen goods, sell those stolen goods, and not have those stolen goods linked back to them even if they are found.

For the sake of comparison, sit down and watch Ocean’s Eleven and Collateral back to back. Both are very enjoyable movies, but as you watch (this possibly may be the third or fourth viewing) think about the different priorities the characters have. You could also technically fill the heist movie slot with Heat or Thief but that’s two more Michael Mann films and they can run together after a while.

-Michi

I have a character who has studied capoeira for 10 years, and I was wondering if they’d be good at fighting in a forest, since there is not a lot of open space to do the movements and all. How would they approach a fight scene in such an area? :/

The biggest problems I think this character will face are:

1) The ground in an urban area is actually pretty uneven, the ground of a forest floor is incredibly uneven and dangerous to fight on. Capoeira includes many kicks even when it ditches the acrobatic movements which will make keeping the balance difficult.

2) Unlike a street, the forest floor is not only uneven but it’s full of debris. Whether it’s leaves, pine needles, exposed roots, grass, or unfortunately placed bushes, the character may have difficulty performing their techniques. Remember, kicks rely on friction to function and in a combat scenario falling down is pretty much a guaranteed game over, thanks for playing, go ahead and die now. So, your character is going to be wrong footed and fighting at a disadvantage. Depending on how bad the ground is, they may only be limited to hand strikes.

They’re not going to want to fight at all unless they have to and even then, their focus will probably be on disengaging and finding a more advantageous spot.

This, of course, is entirely dependent on your character practicing modern capoeira as opposed to this being a piece of historical fiction set in Brazil between the 16th and 19th centuries. In which case, the answer quickly becomes: I don’t know.

-Michi

Holy crap. First of all, I just discovered your blog and it is awesome. Second, can you please tell me how to properly write fight scenes using a war scythe?

Aww, thanks! The war scythe is an awesome weapon. I’m just going to leave the wiki article here: War Scythe because a good place to start thinking about fight scenes is to learn what kind of combat the weapon was used for and who used it. The war scythe is a polearm, one that because of it’s long, curved blade has a particular focus on slashing. The heavier blade on the end allows the wielder to make better use of inertia for stronger attacks. It’s easy to start and difficult to stop, with a focus on slashing and stabbing. (I’m also going to drop this fencing manual dealing with polearms from Wikitenaur on you. Read it, it has pictures (though not war scythe), they may help you with the basics of staff combat. The war scythe is primarily a European weapon, so focus your attention on European martial traditions. You may have to scroll to get to the staff and halberd sections.)

What does this mean for writing them?

Your character is going to focus on forward facing assaults, sweeping, cutting, slashing, and stabbing as they advance. The goal is going to be to press their advantage and that’s what you should focus on in the scene: cleaving through one opponent to move onto the next in a mass combat situation as opposed to specific dueling. Because of the weight of the war scythe’s head, they probably won’t do much with the butt or bottom part of the weapon as it inhibits speed and unbalances their control. They may use it to block, depending. On that I don’t know.

-Michi

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