Tag Archives: star wars

What kind of blades are best for slicing through different types of metal?

Fantasy/sci-fi ones, like Warhammer 40k’s Power weapons or a lightsaber.

Using a blade on metal is usually a bad idea. The reason is fairly simple, you’re going to damage the weapon. It doesn’t matter how sharp the blade is; in fact, sharper blades will actually suffer more damage. The edge itself will chip and deform.

Actually using a sword or dagger against someone in plate armor isn’t about cutting through the armor itself, it’s about finding the points of articulation, where plates meet, and stabbing through that gap.

The only time you’d want to be striking the plate directly is with a weapon designed to pierce armor, or just confer massive amounts of force through the armor. That’s maces, flails, war hammers (the actual weapon, not the game), mauls, and some polearms. Basically anything that’s either a glorified beatin’ people stick, or a beatin’ people stick with a spike or two on it.

I say “some polearms” because, there is a lot of variety in polearm styles, each with a different role in mind. Some were designed to pierce armor, while others are knives tied to the end of a really long stick. In a few cases, like the halberd, it’s a combination of both.

Now, if your character has an enchanted weapon that’s resistant to damage, or it’s some kind of very high tech weapon, again, like a 40k Power Sword or a lightsaber, then any conventional armor isn’t going to be much of a threat to your weapon, or even much of an obstacle.

If you’re wondering, the worst kind would probably be historical katanas. They were just not designed for contact with metal, and trying to use one against someone wearing plate or chain would quickly slag the blade.


Hi, what can you tell me about double edged weapons? Is it true that it requires a tremendous amount of skill, or is it just impractical all around? If it does require skill, how long would you say it would take for one to master a double edged weapon?

I’ll be honest, I don’t think those really have much of a history. There’s probably some obscure case I’m simply not aware of, but the only thing I can think of is Darth Maul. My recollection is; Ray Park was just using a staff form.

I’ve got a double knife around here, somewhere. I picked it up as a show piece item about a decade ago. But, I’ve never even seen a double knife presented as a practical weapon.

Okay, on the ability to actually use them? Maul’s lightsaber works because they’re effectively frictionless, and the individual blades can be turned off. If you take away either of those, I’d really worry about being able to control weapon, when actually connecting with another combatant or their weapon.

With staff combat, the closer your hands are, the faster you can move, but the less control you have over the weapon, which in turn means you have to slow down (yes, by staff standards, Maul was moving slowly). I don’t think this is really even a skill issue, simply controlling a double bladed sword would always be finicky.

I would believe that double weapons were used as exhibition pieces, but as combat weapons, without more information, I’m pretty suspicious.

Double knives are slightly more plausible. I’m not aware of any history, and, my own experience left me with a nasty self inflicted cut on my off hand, but there are enough uses for a reverse grip blade that having one there all the time wouldn’t be a complete liability. But, carrying one could be. Mine uses a lockblade mechanism, but in a setting without collapsible knives, I’m not sure how you’d keep yourself safe from your own blades.


Little Boys Learn A Lot From Watching ‘Star Wars,’ And It Isn’t All Good

Little Boys Learn A Lot From Watching ‘Star Wars,’ And It Isn’t All Good

Do you have any tips on writing scenes with swords involved?

If you’ve got a local renaissance fair, your best bet would be to actually find the people using swords and seeing what they’d be willing to teach you. Most of the renfair participants I’ve known, have been more than happy to explain what they know.

There’s that old cliche about writing what you know, but if you can get hands on experience, it’ll go a lot further than anything I can offer you.

Beyond that, I’d recommend spending a little time familiarizing yourself with German school fencing.

The general idea with German School fencing is to maximize the efficiency of blade movement. Most guards are kept across the body, to aid with parrying. Most hews (strikes) focus on very narrow blade arcs.

For an experienced fighter, their blade will feel like a natural extension of the arm. I know it sounds corny, but it’s also true. They’ll know exactly where the blade is at all times. The weight and balance of the weapon will have been completely internalized, to the point where they’re probably not even actively aware of them anymore. If they’ve trained on multiple blades (which is very likely), then they should be able to acclimate to a new sword fairly quickly (which is usually what those test swings you’ll see in fiction are for).

Obviously, there’s a bit more difference if you’re moving from a shortsword to a longsword or from a saber to a claymore, but so long as your character is using a sword that’s similar to the one they’re familiar with, acclimation should be fairly easy.

Also, it’s worth pointing out, German School fencing is specifically intended for European longswords, you can use an arming sword, Viking sword or bastard sword, but it won’t be a perfect fit. Additionally if your character is using something like a scimitar or a greatsword, those all encompass different styles.

Ironically, the original Star Wars trilogy isn’t a bad visual reference for German school fencing. There’s more blade on blade combat then you’d like in a real combat scenario, but a lot of the techniques and stances are there.

Michi would be irked if I didn’t recommend the Errol Flynn films as visual references. Just keep in mind that the actors are fighting very conservatively, because they’d been given live blades, and, for the most part, are trained in Italian School fencing, which evolved to use lighter blades.

If you’re talking about using swords in mass combat, as opposed to dueling, then I’d be tempted to suggest Aragorn and Boromir from the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings films. I’m not as familiar with mass combat forms, but what they’re doing looks close to what I’d expect.

I keep saying this, but look at Robert E. Howard’s Conan. One of the necessary parts of being a writer is finding someone else who went before you and seeing what they did. When it comes to sword combat, and accessibility, Robert E. Howard is probably the best source I can suggest. There’s a fairly cheap three volume paperback set that’s in print, and, because it’s public domain, most of it is available through Project Gutenberg.