Tag Archives: scythe fighting

Would sharpening the other edge of a scythe make it any more effective as a weapon?

Not particularly. Honestly, the best conversion for a scythe is still to fix the blade in line with the shaft, and use it like an improvised glaive or bardiche. Which is, incidentally, where the warscythe came from. First as an improvised polearm, and later as a legitimate weapon in it’s own right.

-Starke

what about war scythes though?

We’ve talked about war scythes before, they’re in the same tag.

War scythes and scythes are completely different. While one may be converted from the other and refashioned, only the war scythe is a weapon designed for warfare. The other is an agricultural tool. The war scythe looks more like the average bladed polearm and functions in a similar manner. It does not, really, look like the Grim Reaper scythe.

The war scythe has been used during various peasant rebellions in Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, but that was a choice made because of their availability instead of their efficacy. When you’re a farmer, you go with what you have. Longarms/polearms do give a combatant with no training an advantage in combat. Polearms are a base choice and they are a good one. I’ll take a broom over a can of mace as a self-defense weapon. Flip the broom end around and it’s a makeshift staff.

Still, it’s not going to be a “first choice” kind of weapon. It’s in the category of “I have almost nothing else, so this will do”.

If you’re looking for a Grim Reaper version of a battle scythe, you won’t find one. At least, you won’t see it being used conventionally. There are weird pockets that pop up for almost everything, but just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be useful or comparable.

We have an affection for scythes due to the Grim Reaper’s popularity. Try to remember that the Grim Reaper is fictional and the “weapon” is an agricultural implement. It represents harvesting rather than murder and depicts the inevitability of death in relation to the seasons. As a mythological figure, the Grim Reaper is a force of nature. He’s/she’s/it’s not a monster you battle. At least, not in any conventional way.

I understand why this can be confusing.

-Michi

Can a scythe be an effective fighting weapon?

No. We do have a scythe tag on the subject that might make the tag cloud with this post if you want more detail. You can use one in an emergency when you literally can’t get anything better. If we’re limiting ourselves to farm implements, a pitch fork or shovel is a more effective weapon. You don’t want to intentionally take those into battle either, but you’re better off with them, than a scythe.

-Starke

I’ve got a MC who fights with a grim-reaper type scythe. He’s strong enough to hold/move it. I can’t seem to find anything on how the fighting would work. Do you have any advice/sources that I could find info. on? Thanks!

Although it doesn’t make the tag cloud, we do have a Scythe tag.

The short version continues to be that the scythe isn’t a weapon. It’s sort of like saying, “I have a character who fights with a fire extinguisher,” and about as practical.

-Starke

I know that scythes aren’t actually weapons and they’re super impractical, but how do you think that would change if the sharp edge of the scythe was the outside, not the side facing the user? Basically, the blade would be angled similar to a Dane axe, but the size would be that of a scythe. Putting the aspect of weight aside (the weapon is magically weightless), would such a weapon be practical? If so, what sort of fighting style would work well?

You’d have a really odd looking axe.

Basically there’s two problems, first is the blade itself, the second is the shaft. With the blade, you almost never want your weapon’s only sharp edge pointing towards you. At a concept level, sharpening the outside isn’t really a great solution, but it might work as a quick emergency modification.

The issue with the shaft varies. A lot of actual farm scythes I’ve seen over the years have contoured handles, sometimes even with separate fore grip setups. These are designed to make it easier to use the scythe in a repeated horizontal harvesting motion, but seriously limit the utility of one as a weapon.

I have the weird thought (and this is just speculation) that the simplest fix to re-purpose a scythe would be to actually reverse the blade, so it hooks away from the user. It would add a little more range, and might have some utility in catching and injuring incoming infantry. But, even that would also, probably ,fall into the category of some kind of emergency improvised weapon.

Strictly speaking, the issue isn’t just the scythe having a blade pointed towards the user. That’s also true with the kama, which, coincidentally, was also used to harvesting tool. It’s those contoured shafts that will mess you up.

Can you kill someone with it? Yes. But it’s a weapon of desperation, like a claw hammer. It shouldn’t be a professional soldier’s weapon of choice in any era. There will always be better options. Even if it’s just using a pitchfork as an improvised polearm.

It’s worth pointing out, there is a weapon called a warscythe. These had a curved scythe like blade, but it’s blade was fixed to be parallel with a normal straight shaft, rather than a normal scythe’s perpendicular construction. These were used (as far as I can tell) with normal thrusting and chopping motions.

The only thing the scythe is really good at (aside from harvesting grain) is looking really ominous. If your character is some kind of supernaturally empowered grim reaper, it’s a fine choice, physics be damned. But in something more grounded, the scythe is an emergency fall back for your villagers, after they’ve run out of torches and pitchforks.

-Starke

Is a scythe a good weapon? How does it compare to other weapons?

It’s not. We did a round on scythes last year, but the short version is that scythes aren’t weapons, and they don’t really adapt well for use as weapons.

Now, there is a pole-arm called a war scythe, which is similar in that there’s a stick and a blade, but, the blade projects out in line with the shaft, like a halberd or other bladed polearm, and the shaft itself is straight. So, if you really want a slightly curved blade on your spear or pike…

Anyway, scythes were designed for harvesting crops, the design requires that you pull towards you to cut. This is a very bad thing on so many levels in combat. First, you’re actually pulling your blade towards you, inviting you to disembowel yourself, second you can’t defend yourself from someone closing in. Yeah, just don’t have your characters try to fight with one.

-Starke

Hi! I’m trying to write a mecha story, and the mech fights with a lazer scythe. I realise it would be hard to apply real life training to a mecha situation, but is there any advice you can give on how a human would use a scythe-type weapon even semi realistically that I could then apply in larger scale for the mecha? Even if its something that the pilot himself trains in or something. I love this tumblr! Thank you :)

Honestly? Not much. The scythe isn’t, and never has been a weapon. It can be used as an improvised weapon in a pinch, but, to the best of my knowledge there’s never been a formalized combat style involving one. Real scythes were designed around a simple, horizontal swiping motion to, well, scythe down grain. The blade was on the edge facing the user, meaning to use it as a weapon you would have to strike past your foe and pull towards you. When you’re dealing with grain, that’s useful, when you’re dealing with someone wanting to remove your internal organs, it’s a bad thing.

The only thought on the scythe I can think of would be to treat it like an axe or pick. You could look at some forms of axe combat, particularly the bearded axe, which involves building momentum in a crossing figure eight motion.

For writing a mecha story in general, I would suggest taking a look at the GURPS Mecha book by David Pulver. Like most of the GURPS supplements, it spends a lot of time talking about considerations for world building and how to pace a longer story or series. I’m not an expert, but the material it presents looks solid enough at first glance, and should give you some help with your story. A few caveats: it spends almost no time talking about melee combat in Mecha, and it does assume you have the core GURPS book and Compendium I, though, from a writing standpoint, those aren’t actually necessary.

-Starke

wetmattos said: I’ve seen, once, a video of a scythe fighter, and according to him the most difficult thing on wielding it is to maintain balance – but it seems viable (even if really risky) enough. Sending the video! youtube.com/watch?v…

That’s actually a pretty good suggestion, at least on a visual level. What you’re seeing there looks like a form of Wushu staff technique.

It’s not a practical way to fight with a scythe, but, given we’re talking about Mecha fighting, it doesn’t need to be.

-Starke