Tag Archives: Starke answers

If in the near future, guns were not preferable for some reason, what would a sword made with modern technology and practices look like and what would it be capable of?

I’m sorry, if you really want an answer to this, “for some reason” will have to be a lot more specific. The short version is; I don’t see swords coming back into use anytime in the near future.

The only situation I can think of, in a modern setting, where a sword would be preferable, is if you were dealing with things that could take an inhuman amount of damage without being affected, and where lopping body pieces off is the way to go. I’m thinking classic horror monsters, here. Even then, there are shotgun loads, and anti-materiel rounds for that kind of situation.

If you want a crash course in using firearms to hunt the supernatural, I’d recommend Ultraviolet, (the TV Series, not the film), about modern day vampire hunters, who’ve adapted modern technology to deal with vampires. They strap cameras to the ends of their guns, in order to quickly identify vampires (the whole, no reflections thing), load their weapon with pressed carbon fragmentation rounds (to effect the wooden stake through the heart), use gas grenades designed to respond to the chemical weakness in the old garlic folklore. In short, it’s a very inventive (and at six episodes, very short), look at how one can adapt modern technology to hunt monsters.

If you’re thinking of some kind of apocalyptic event, I’d refer you to Eternity Road by Jack McDevitt. It’s a post apocalyptic novel about a group that sets off from St. Louis into Canada in search of a lost archive of pre-plague books. The main thrust of the setting is that the printing press is lost technology, but firearms remain in frequent use.

The problem being; guns are incredibly easy to manufacture, and basic gunsmithing is common enough, and useful enough, that it’s unlikely to be lost.

On top of that, an apocalyptic event like that would snuff out most of the interesting things we’re seeing in modern forging technology.

If it’s a technology marches on, kind of situation, then there isn’t much that could really negate the bullet without making a sword equally useless.

On what we can actually do right now, the only thing that comes to mind is cryoforging; I suspect that’s a trade name. From what I understand it’s just a tempering process involving liquid nitrogen to quench the blade. It supposedly results in an improbably durable weapon that will keep its edge through almost any abuse you can throw at it. I’d take this with a grain of salt; the only material I’ve seen on it was from a company that was selling cryoforged katanas back around 2002.

On the “in the year 2000” side, it depends on what your setting has, nanotechnology might be an option. Pick your poison on what you want a nanotech blade to do. But it’s worth pointing out that in the real world, nanotech research has gotten mired pretty heavily in patent conflicts, and the entire field is at risk of stalling out.

Carbon Fiber Weave swords are another possibility, basically this is a plastic, but it’s fairly durable stuff. I don’t know if the current iteration of the technology can hold an edge in combat, but edgeless training swords have been around for years.

If you really want to play in that range, I’d say dig up all the William Gibson and Neil Stephenson you can stomach. They’re the architects of modern cyberpunk, and really almost required reading if you want to push the envelope of what can be done with technology. For Stephenson, I’d recommend Snow Crash, and Cryptonomicon. With Gibson, I think Neuromancer is the place to start. If I recall correctly, Snow Crash is the only one of those which really talks about a character using a sword. Still, if you haven’t read them yet, and this is the genre you’re looking at writing in, they’re all worth your time.


Out of curiosity, where do you get your information regarding katana? Speaking as someone who practices Iaido, I’ve yet to see any practitioner use a katana with a lacquered wooden handle. I also don’t really see the “stylistic weaknesses” you refer to in our higher ranked members that would leave their guard open or cause them to be slow. Maybe you’re familiar with a different style or different kind of teaching than I am though.

This may sound like a cheesy blow off, but, honestly? From lots of different sources. Back when I was still in school I had to keep track of my citations. Now that I’ve graduated, I’ll admit, I’ve gotten a bit lax in that department.

The stuff on the cultural importance of the blade is verified from a couple different anthropology texts. Any entry level text on Shinto should talk about that, and most entry level texts on Japanese politics should at least discuss the basics. The implications tend to be a bit harder to extract.

The material the sword is made from comes from a lot of sources. I mentioned that in an earlier post, but the takeaway is, the difficulty Japan had with mineral resources is very well documented. It was instrumental to their behavior during WWII, so, if you’re wanting to check my work, ironically, that’s a good place to start. I mentioned Chalmers Johnson’s early East Asian studies, but I don’t know how much of that’s readily accessible (what I read of his early work was while I was still in college). Anything he’s written after about 1990 is very much American Foreign Policy, it’s interesting, but not what you’re looking for.

My discussion on the blade’s stylistic weaknesses is comparative observation of weapons technology. Make no mistake, I am making an argument here, this isn’t something I found someone else saying.

As I mentioned, the folding technology was something that existed in Europe as early as 800 BC, it was abandoned as European technology advanced. I skimmed over it when I was putting together the European swords set, simply because it’s a weird footnote that complicates the historical narrative. From a history standpoint, it’s an important advancement, but from a writing standpoint, it’s probably not.

I know I spot checked my recollection with a websearch, but I’ve come across information on Celtic longswords in multiple places for years. If it isn’t accurate, it’s a fiction that’s been gleefully accepted by academia.

Similarly, I ran a quick search to verify my recollections on the Katana’s structural weakness, but I’ve seen this in a lot of sources over the years.

When I’m talking about the stylistic weaknesses; well, this is what you’re not going to like. I’m doing comparative analysis. As you’re well aware, Iaido is a very insular form; that is to say, your opponent will be wielding either a katana or a stand in for one. (As far as I know) you won’t be practicing Iaido against someone armed with sais or nunchaku. It’s just not part of the form. To say nothing of going toe to toe with someone in steel plate armed with a bastard sword.

On top of that Iaido isn’t really a killing form; it’s an attempt to revive Iaijutsu in the modern era.

But, when people are writing characters using a katana, they’re usually going to set them in contexts outside of the strict historical setting. With that in mind, I’m looking at the way the Katana is used in Kendo, and comparing it to German school fencing.

There’s an obvious retort; like Iaido, Kendo is a modern reconstruction of a dead form, so it’s possible the Samurai used a radically different form in combat, but that’s somewhat unlikely. Because of the expense in producing the blades (historically), and their (relative) fragility, the weapon has some serious limits.

As with Iaido and Kendo, German School Fencing is something of a reconstruction. It draws from historical training manuals that have survived. So, again, there’s a risk that the information we’re working on is wildly inaccurate. For one thing, modern German School Fencing is far less afraid of blade on blade contact, than historical combatants would have been willing to risk.

Also, I should point out something, in case I wasn’t clear; when I’m saying the Katana is relatively slow, I mean in comparison to a European longsword. Because of the nature of military conflict in Europe, the weapons that evolved are particularly vicious, in contrast, Japan had a very static and isolated culture, which actually reversed weapon innovations in favor of the status quo. Off hand, and since Michi asked me about it earlier today, Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel talks a lot about this in the context of Japan’s abandoning guns in the fifteenth century, because it disrupted their cultural structure. It’s also a good starting text when talking about what drives military development.

I am sorry, I can’t draw from a single source and say, “yeah, I got it all from here.” By training, I’m an analyst. I pull from a lot of different sources and put it together, all I can do is invite you to follow me, and poke around all over the place for the pieces.


Not sure if this has been asked before, but how do you write a scene that involves a gunfight? Obviously engagements happen at beyond point-blank so how does that work?

First off, I’m sorry this took so long to write up, this is a much deeper topic, and there will be some full articles on the subject coming in the near future.

But, to your question, the short answer is; not much, really. Fights at close range are very short, and will involve characters firing as quickly as they can at one another.

Some of the same assumptions also hold true, characters who have training and experience will win out over characters that don’t know what they’re doing.

The biggest difference is with guns, there is no playing nice. Any character that’s injured from getting hit will be seriously injured. Healing from a gunshot wound will probably involve months of recovery.

As with other weapons, guns are unique to one another. A character that’s used to using a USP .45 will be at a serious disadvantage if you hand them an M1911. Some of the basic theory and practice caries over, but the way you operate one is different from the other.

Bullets will penetrate light cover. If you’ve played a lot of recent military themed shooters, this should be a familiar concept, but games tend to undercut how severe this can be. If your character is opening fire with a handgun, there’s a real risk the bullets will blow through walls, cars, and whatever else, and hit someone they didn’t intend to.

In most residential or business settings, you won’t find cover thick enough to stop a handgun round, meaning the whole “take cover behind that couch/upended table/car door/lawn chair” tactic doesn’t actually work. Throwing a conference table on its side may look cool, but it won’t save your characters from getting perforated.

Military combat is a completely different animal. It focuses on long range fire, suppressing a target (keeping them from moving or firing back), while other squad members move in to eliminate them.

This tactic makes its way back into gunfights involving trained characters. In a firefight, their primary goal should be getting out of sight, and moving around to the side or behind their attackers.


Is there some kind of moves in martial arts that resemble dancing moves? Like a really elegant, swift, and light way of fighting?


Pretty much, any master can make their style look elegant as hell. With practice and dedication, any competent martial artist can polish a kata down to really good performance art.

But, katas aren’t for fighting. They’re a set of moves designed to help students get used to shifting from one strike to the next. In theory, anyone can polish them into one fluid performance; but it’s kind of missing the point.

And, nothing will get you killed faster in a fight, than digging out a kata. It’s a rote set of moves, anyone who recognizes the kata you’re using will instantly know what you’re going to do next, and while they’re not standardized, they are teaching tools, they get around.

Here’s the thing; outside of a fight, as a demonstration or a kata or an exhibition, most mainstream martial arts can be performance art. There are styles like Capoeira that were specifically designed to be disguised as dancing. But, when a fight starts, the styles change.

In combat, martial arts styles are reactive. They key off what your opponent is doing at this moment. As an unarmed combatant, you need to be building momentum, building force, or working with pinpoint precision. You can’t do any of those things while you’re pirouetting around; you have neither the time, nor the energy.

More than that, at a training level, dancers make poor martial artists, and vice versa. To an outside observer, what they do may look similar, but on a technical level, the skills are almost completely incompatible.


Since you mentioned Jack Bauer and I’m a huge 24 fan, could you talk more about his fighting style? Also, what would be a believable background/fighting style for a character like him? Thank you very much!

As I recall, Jack mostly uses Krav Maga, with some other CQC techniques mixed in. I don’t think we’ve actually talked about Krav Maga yet; it’s a modern combat style designed by the Israeli Defense Force, which focuses on very close quarters combat. It’s a little strange that a Federal Agent would be using them, but, it isn’t completely unreasonable. The style was very popular for a few years back in the early 2000s, and you can still find schools for it in the US.

It’s one of the few actual combat styles that you can get training in “off the street,” though the civilian version is probably about ten years out of date.

Now, as much as I love 24 in a minute to minute context, there’s a lot of stuff in its background that just doesn’t work.

CTU is supposed to be a military or CIA operation. Before the Department of Homeland Security, domestic counterterrorism was a bit of a bureaucratic mess. Theoretically the FBI had jurisdiction, and if it was a bombing, they were the ones called in to investigate. After 9/11, the DHS was set up to coordinate intelligence gathering from the CIA, NSA, and FBI, to assist in the prevention of future terrorist attacks. It outright consumed a few agencies, including the Secret Service, ICE, and, I think, the DSS.

In theory, the CIA has never been allowed to operate domestically; the same is also theoretically true of the NSA. Now, that’s never really been the case, domestic actions by the CIA go back at least to the 1950s, and Echelon, an NSA surveillance network, dates back to the mid 60s. Obviously, this stuff goes down the rabbit hole fast, but the critical thing to take away is that, even after the PRISM leaks, the CIA and NSA aren’t allowed to operate openly on US soil. Meaning, at least in the world we live in, CTU would be a legal impossibility.

If you’re writing a counterterrorism agent in the federal government, today, you’re looking at FBI or DHS. DHS’s primary interest is supposed to be sharing intelligence, not acting on it, so really, if you want a Jack Bauer type counterterrorist investigator, you’re probably looking at a Special Agent in the FBI.

If you want the specific requirements for a character to be an FBI Special Agent, I could rattle what I remember off the top of my head, or just link this: https://fbijobs.gov/114.asp

The short version is, no serious physical impairments, including colorblindness, or less than 20/40 vision, no serious criminal record, at least a four year degree, between the ages of 23 and 37 (when they’re recruited). But, that link goes into some interesting details. (Also, question 17 still cracks me up, until I remember that it really was one of the most common questions they were getting for years.)

What it doesn’t cover is that military service, or a background in law enforcement is a plus. It’s not technically necessary, but a character who didn’t serve, and wasn’t a cop, will be somewhat socially isolated. As far as I know, this isn’t malicious; it’s just that the Agent in question won’t have the same shared experiences to help with making friends and networking.

The FBI does their hand to hand training at Quantico. I don’t have any real details on it, but it’s safe to assume it’s a fairly standard police hand to hand variant. Given recent trends in police tactics, it’s entirely possible that it’s started incorporating military hand to hand techniques.

If you want to avoid the FBI for some specific reason, all of this is still a pretty reasonable baseline for any federal agent.

Jack’s background in Special Forces is, let’s call it “difficult to justify”. Ex-Special Forces has become a flashcard for badass, but, as with a lot of things, it tends to get massively misunderstood by people on the outside. I’ll probably come back to this at a later date, but, in general, people who come out of the Special Forces programs aren’t really well suited for jobs in law enforcement. Most often, this is used to designate a character as trained in combat, just like, literally, everyone  that serves in the Armed Services.

My final advice on writing a character like Jack Bauer is; don’t. The only reason Bauer works at all is Kiefer Sutherland’s performance; he’s walking a very fine tightrope to keep the character likable. On paper, without an actor to kludge the character into line, that’s going to be a very difficult mark to hit.


“And let’s not talk about the fighting in Taken, unless we want Starke to go on at length about how wrong it is when paired with the main character’s background and profession.” Is it wrong that I actually really want to read that? I always take Hollywood combat with a giant grain of salt, but Taken seems to have tried to emphasize a kind of realism regarding Neeson’s character’s abilities (though, still, Hollywood). I’d be interested to read a pro’s opinion on the inconsistencies.

This goes way back to something we said a long time ago about tailoring your martial arts to your characters. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) uses a modern style that appropriates material from Aikido and Jujitsu.

Now, the style was designed by an ex-SAS operator, to be used by celebrity bodyguards. It’s supposed to use as little force as possible to subdue unruly fans while the bodyguard is on camera. While I kind of cringe at the style on a philosophical level, the concept is solid, and it’s aimed at a niche that really benefits from a specialized art form.

Here’s the problem: the movie isn’t about a bodyguard protecting a celebrity in front of the cameras. It’s about an ex-special forces operator trying to recover his daughter from human traffickers.

Mills sticks to that single style through the entire film, and, fairly frequently, he’s put into situations where that style really does not excel.

Now, a real person, or even a realistic character based on that background, like Jack Bauer, Vincent (from Michael Mann’s Collateral), Val Kilmer’s character from Spartan, Michael Weston (from Burn Notice) and nearly every Treadstone trained character in the Bourne films (not in the books) all mix up their styles to deal with the situation they’re presented with.

These are all characters that should be trained in multiple hand to hand styles; so they can employ them easily in any appropriate situation.

Mills is regularly sidelined by rookie mistakes that wouldn’t be out of place in a thriller with an untrained protagonist, but are completely out of place if your protagonist is supposed to be Jack Bauer with the serial numbers filed off. The scene where he’s dragged out of a car by one foot comes to mind as an example.

Would it be a better film if Miles was employing kill strikes like the Bourne films use? I’m not sure, it has a lot more problems that stem from Luc Besson handing off the director reins, but at least then Mills would be a credible special forces operator and not a suspension of disbelief shattering roadblock.

If you want to see what Taken could have been, I’d say rent Spartan. It’s a very similar film, from 2004, but with a much more brutal hand to hand element, and really a more brutal ethic to the entire film. I wouldn’t call it a fun movie, but if you want to write a special operator, then I would say it’s required viewing.


Also, we’re finally home; regular posting should resume shortly.

For Starke: Are there any weapons that you can legally carry around anywhere? And Michi, how much damage can one do as retaliation to an attack? Is it a punch in return for a punch, or can you do more? And are you allowed to act if they threaten to hit you, or do you have to wait until they start to do so?

Okay, these are actually both legal questions, so I’m going to take them both. Up front, I’m not a lawyer; I took a few pre-law classes in college before realizing that my liver wouldn’t survive law school. So, if you’re in a situation where these aren’t abstract questions for writing, go find an actual lawyer immediately. Now, with that out of the way:

On weapons? Short answer: no. If it’s a weapon, there’s going to be places you can’t take it legally. This goes across the board from firearms to staves, to knives. Sooner or later, you’re going to go one of those places.

On top of that, weapon laws vary pretty wildly based on a lot of specific details. A knife that’s legal in one state won’t always be legal in another. For instance: spring loaded knives (Switchblades and OTP tacticals) are legal in South Dakota and Wyoming, but illegal in Washington and California. Some states measure blade length, but stop measuring it when the blade becomes serrated, while others don’t care about serration, and will simply classify a knife as a weapon based on its overall length. A pocket knife (with something under a 2 inch blade) is perfectly legal in most places, but you can’t take it into a TSA cordon. Even, Firearms, which are legal with the proper licensing in most places, are illegal in DC.

There are improvised weapons you can usually get through a security checkpoint, or even a frisking reliably. A heavy key ring or a nice heavy ballpoint pen, for instance. But, police and security guards who are working a checkpoint have one job; keep people from taking things through. Tactical pens may sound like a good idea, but it’s a huge red flag to a cop at a checkpoint. They read the same things you do, and they know when a pen is designed to be a concealable weapon.

As to how much force you can use to defend yourself? Yeah, this is also a very complex subject. Basically under most American law, if threatened, you can defend yourself, but you can only use enough force to allow yourself to retreat to safety.

What constitutes a threat varies from state to state, and can vary from case to case, based on context. Sometimes, technical assault is necessary before you can defend yourself, other times, the threat of violence is sufficient.

How much force you can use depends on who you are, how well trained you are, and what the situation is. If your character is a black belt, they’re going to be on a much tighter leash than someone who had one self defense seminar in college.

Justifiable homicide requires that you are in immediate, reasonable, fear for your life, and cannot retreat to any safety. Someone must be trying to kill you, and you cannot have another option. But, we’re back to the context part, some states have laws called “Stand your Ground laws”, or “Castle Laws”, these allow you to use lethal force when you have an option to retreat. Some states, require that you be in your home for them to take effect, (California and New York, as I recall), while others only require that someone is attacking you, (Texas and, now rather infamously, Florida).

Also, justifiable homicide is, what’s known as an “affirmative defense”, that means, you’ll get arrested, go to trial, and then, instead of saying, “no, I didn’t do this,” you effectively say, “yes, I did this, but I had to because of X.”

I’m going to step back a bit, and say this; if you’re going to use the law and legal consequences in your writing, you’re going to need to do a lot of reading, and a lot of research. Watching a lot of the original Law & Order series is helpful, but it’s not going to cut it. Most states have their criminal code posted online, these days, and from what I remember, most libraries should have a legal section.

When you’re reading it, just take it slow, and be very literal about everything. When you hit a reference to somewhere else in the code, look it up, find out what that means, and come back. It can take some time and effort, but it will give you useful information.

Additionally, you should find a friend or friend of the family who is a lawyer and pick their brains for as much as you can. Law, like medicine and a few other fields, is one of those areas where it’s basically impossible for a writer to fake it, and still get a good story.


I’m the fighting supernatural anon. Thank you so much for your help! The creatures my character fights are mostly humanoid/human shape (but there’s a reason why she’s the one to fight them). They’re still faster and stronger, but I’m thinking of creatures she could overcome with some strategy. The fighting is not the focus, but I want it to be plausible. So, which skills should she develop, including for defense? Which fighting styles are more fit to those needs? Thank you very much again :)

The short version is; there isn’t one. As far as I know, there isn’t even anything vaguely relevant. Forms like Judo focus on dealing with opponents that are stronger than you, but there are practical limits, and a human being can only take or deal so much punishment.

This is a big part of why there are no hand to hand styles for dealing with bears, or wolves, or lions, or any other apex predator. (No, wrestling alligators doesn’t count.) Putting yourself that close to an animal like that will end badly. In the real world, we’ve dealt with that by using ranged weapons, and polearms; which is why I suggested those earlier. They allow you to kill a creature without getting close enough for it to disembowel you.

If she’s using hand to hand when dealing with other humans, and only using the blade on monsters, I’d suggest aikido, it has a strong focus on non-injury, and while it’s not terribly practical, it might philosophically fit, transitioning into junkyard aikido or jujitsu if she’s willing to harm people who get in her way.

Now, I keep pushing the whole “don’t go into hand to hand” thing, and here’s why: It depowers your monsters. If they’re supposed to be foot soldiers of a greater evil that anyone can deal with, and your character is just one of many people fighting them off, then it’s really fine. And, I’d offer the same advice as above, junkyard aikido or jujitsu.

But, if they’re a scourge upon the world, and no one else can oppose them, having your character take them out unarmed is going to risk doing seriously unfortunate things to your audience’s suspension of disbelief (unless there’s some really good justifications in why everyone can’t deal with them).

I’d recommend looking at The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski. Though, I’d be slightly more cautious about suggesting any of the adaptations of his work. But, Sapkowski does almost exactly what you’re describing, and has some excellent justifications.

For use of the Katana, I’d recommend Kirasawa’s Yojimbo (though there isn’t much sword combat). Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol I might be worth looking at, if you want the more mythical version of the blade. (Though, as with all of Tarantino’s work, you’ll need to bring a strong stomach.) Michi’s recommending Rurouni Kenshin. She’s also recommending you look into the underlying cultural history of the katana, that’s The Book of Five Rings, and spending some time looking at Bushido. There’s a lot of cultural context with the katana, so if you’re setting your story in an amalgam of historical Japan, or even just using a Katana, it’s probably worth doing some further research.


If you’re insistent on working with the katana, then The Book of the Five Rings by Miyamoto Musashi (circa 1645), it’s a philosophical text on the kenjutsu arts and conflict. I’d also recommend looking into Iaijutsu: the art of drawing and sheathing the blade (Iaido in a modern context), Kenjutsu (Kendo), and Battojutsu as a study of sword combat in Japan. Do yourself a favor and pick one.

She can pretty much learn the sword or the hands, but she’s only got time for one unless she’s been practicing continually and doing nothing else like in a good old fashioned apprenticeship like in Medieval Europe with pages.

If she’s been training to fight monsters specifically, I’d look into a variety of other supplemental weaponry. If you’re going Japanese, stay with Japanese weapons as supplements. The naginata or some variant of glaive would be her pole arm, they might also train her on the bow, and practice with a wide variety of other useful skills like poison brewing and trap-making, spike traps, pit traps, etc.  All the useful extras any good hunter needs to give them an edge. I don’t know if the Japanese ever did actually attach a kunai to the end of a rope and used it as a whip like the Chinese did with the Shaolin rope dart, but you know it’s not a bad idea.

Just try to stay within the Japanese frame and you should be fine, it’s a bad idea to play mix and match with martial styles unless you’re really willing to do the leg work (all the leg work) to understand all the themes they bring into play in your story.

(Edit: an investment of time, if you haven’t already done so, into some of the Anime and Manga that deal with Japan’s mythology and monsters might also be worth it. Digging into the monster ideas used in Claymore and Inuyasha might be helpful.)


For the use of a katana, another good movie might be Ame Agaru (After the Rain, in English). Its fight scenes are considered to be incredibly well choreographed.

Welcome to Fuck Yeah Character Development: Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Welcome to Fuck Yeah Character Development: Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Anonymous Asks: Fighting and Urban Fantasy

Hi! I’m trying to decide the most appropriate fighting style for a character I’m writing. It’s a fantasy setting and this character is training to fight supernatural creatures since she was young. She’s now 16, tall and skinny, and training is a big part of her life. She fights with a katana-like sword, but I’m also looking for a character skilled in unarmed combat. Which styles should I be looking for? Sorry for the silly question, I didn’t know who else to ask =X

This is really going to depend on the setting you’ve built, and what she’s hunting, but here are a few things to think about:

A lot of real martial arts deal with the idea that you’re fighting something that is roughly, physiologically equivalent to yourself. That is to say, you’re fighting other people. There’s no martial art in the world that will help you fight a grizzly bear or a lion in hand to hand combat.

When you’re talking about monsters in a fantasy world, you’re often talking about things that are bigger, tougher and stronger than humans. That can be almost anything, from a minotaur, to a vampire. The basic assumptions about hand to hand combat don’t apply.

Swords are kind of similar; the sword isn’t a hunting weapon, it’s a weapon designed for killing humans. This works in some contexts, against some monsters, if your character is hunting creatures that used to be human, or are roughly humanoid (like an orc or goblin), then it might still be applicable.

But, if your character is fighting monsters considerably larger than her, like, say, werewolves (of the 9ft tall, bipedal, snarling, deathbeast variety); a sword or hand to hand will get her killed. It’s bigger than her, stronger than her, and it has a significant advantage at ripping people apart in close range.

Against something like that, she’s better off at range, with a crossbow or a gun. If she needs to use a melee weapon, then I’d suggest a spear; it isn’t a perfect solution, but she’s got a better chance of tearing something up with a spear at close range without being disemboweled, than she does with a sword.

Whatever she is using, she’s probably going to have to tailor her combat tactics to what she’s dealing with at the moment. If she’s facing off against werewolves, she’s going to need to switch out to a crossbow and spear, (and remember, Silver is a very soft metal, it’s why it was used for cutlery and not combat, so she’ll need a steel weapon AND a silver plated one, if that’s something she’s dealing with regularly) when she’s dealing with vampires, she’ll need to be carrying gear to deal with their weaknesses, whatever those happen to be.