Tag Archives: fantasty

Any good advice on how to write a fight between the forces of Heaven (potentially using swords and shields and other medieval weapons) and the forces of Hell (using more modern weapons like guns and stuff)? This is probably a stupid question, but I’ve never actually written a good fight scene before, and this has to span several chapters and potentially 20,000-30,000 words. I just really need some advice, please.

Well, given that your average November novel is 50k words, 20k to 30k is a little excessive. You can’t keep a single fight going for that long, without the reader wearing out, though you could comfortably stuff an entire war in that word count.

Unless the weapons are magical, the guns will win out every time. I keep saying this, but there’s a reason we no longer take longswords into battle. If these are enchanted armaments of heaven and hell, then you’re the one setting the ground rules for what they’re actually capable of.

If you’re willing to go back to the drawing board, I’d recommend digging up used copies of In Nomine. It was an RPG setting in the 90s, with angels and demons engaged in a shadow war for the universe. If you can find it, White Wolf’s Demon: The Fallen might also be a good, if bleak, source of inspiration.

If you want to look at a setting with mass warfare, particularly where guns and melee weapons do mix, I’d recommend Warhammer 40k. I usually recommend the Ciaphas Cain novels as the best 40k entry point, but in your case, one of the Grey Knights novels might be closer to what you’re trying to do.


First, let me say thank you for this blog. Your posts have helped me more than most of my own research combined. You guys deserve some kind of Writer’s Badge of Honour. Now, I have a follow-up question to your sword-related post: My setting is roughly a blend of 1600s central Europe and a fantasy nordic country. My MMC is a tribe leader’s second-in-command and wields a longsword. But what kind of weapons would normal people use? Axes? Knives? Clubs? Any answer would be greatly appreciated :)

The only things I’d add to that list are staves, spears, pikes, and… well, guns.

The thing is 1600s Europe was rapidly heading into an era when the firearm was the primary weapon on the battlefield. Matchlock muskets had been around for, about, 150 years, and 1610 saw the introduction of the flintlock, so depending on what part of the seventeenth century you’re using, these could be a real weapon in your setting, or just an expensive, rare, novelty.

These weren’t accurate weapons, the rifle was still over two centuries away, and smoothbore firearms usually just put a bullet in the general vicinity of where you’re pointing. This is what led to the massed musket infantry formations firing in volleys.

The key here is “fantasy.” That alone gives you a lot of latitude to play with the world, and change the assumptions of how it functions. If your culture is based on some perpetuation of the Vikings, then, you’re looking at a mix of longswords, and axes. For ranged weapons, you’d either be looking at bows, spears, or (if you want to make them a part of your setting) early firearms.