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(1/2) I play Warhammer 40k and I run a Dark Angels army. One thing I’ve always wondered about is their swords, because they have a unique shape. If you google ‘dark angels company master balthasar’ you can see it, how it it is sort of barbed at the top of the blade. How effective would that be? I always thought it would be cumbersome and focus the weight at the tip of the blade (however I’m not sure how much of a problem this would be for a space marine because of their super strength)

(2/2) but I can also see the advantage of the barbed shape maybe in
disarming enemies or something along those lines. I’m not sure if in 40k
the shape of the blade would really affect its cutting power because
they have built in disruptor fields IIRC. I guess what I’m asking is, if
there was a blade shaped like that IRL, wielded by your average human
with no built in technology, how effective would it be and what
advantages/disadvantages would the barbed tip warrant?

Company Master Balthasar’s sword is Fellbane, one of the Heavenfall Blades. These are a handful of pre-Heresy mastercrafted power swords with obsidian cores used by the Dark Angel chapter’s inner circle, and the chapter masters of a few Dark Angel successor chapters. (Though, if it turns out the Blood Ravens have somehow “acquired” one, it wouldn’t surprise me.) So, that has absolutely nothing to do with practicality at any level.

The current design of Fellbane (and also Grand Master Belial’s Sword of Silence) is pure cheese. You wouldn’t ever want hooks like that on the tip of your sword. At least not with a conventional weapon. It might have some effect on the disruptor field, but I somewhat doubt it.
For readers who are unfamiliar with 40k, power weapons are basically lightsabers; they usually have a physical blade inside the field (though not always).

Honestly, the design of Fellbane (and the Hevenfall blades in general) has been pretty inconsistent. They used to be just a repaint of standard power sword models with straight Astartes patern blades. There’s actually art depicting Fellbane as a standard straight sword.

The actual function for barbs on the end of a blade like that would be to dig into the tissue and hold the blade in place. This isn’t something you’d want to happen with a sword. But it is a design you’ll see on fishing spears, tridents, or harpoons. The problem with sticking these on the end of your sword should be obvious. Sooner or later it will get caught in your opponent. In the real world, this design would be a huge liability.

The specific hook design here wouldn’t even help with disarming an opponent, because your only option would be to pull your opponent’s weapon towards you. There are sword breakers and parrying daggers designed to do just that. These included forked daggers which can catch an incoming strike, and “comb” style serrations that can trap and hold an opponent’s sword.

With Fellbane it looks like the goal is to “poke it in, then make it hurt even more on the way out.” At least you can say the Dark Angels have hobbies, but it’s not a practical goal for a sword, where a hook catching on a rib means the sword is lost.

I’d be more inclined to say the design was unrealistic, but this is Warhammer 40k. We are talking about power weapons; which are designed to destroy anything they touch on a molecular level. When compared to some Dark Eldar and Chaos melee weapons even the most bizarre looking Imperium power swords appear downright sensible.

With the quick caveat that I’m very rusty on the tabletop rules, my recollection is that power weapons basically ignore the user’s strength. They will tear apart nearly anything, regardless of how strong the wielder is. It’s part of why you’ll frequently see power weapons in the hands of normal humans (like high ranking Imperial Guard officers, Commissars and Inquisitors).

In short, no, this isn’t a good design for a real world weapon design.

-Starke

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