Blade properties (and their use in an PnP RPG)

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Blade properties (and their use in an PnP RPG)

Postby ziegenpeter » 30 Apr 2014 13:44

Good day fellow HEMA fans! This is my first post in this forum and right away I would like to beg your pardon if I make any gammatical/orthographical mistakes, but german - not english - is my mother tongue.
To my point: I dont know if some of you are familiar with an Pen&Paper roleplaying system called "Riddle of Steel". I t tries a fairly 'realistical' approach to simulating fighting but for me it has the tendancy to draw arbitrairy lines when it comes to differanciating different kinds of blade weapons.
Pallasch, Backsword(Broadsword) and Schiavona are three distinct types of weapons, but I reckon they are all very similar in that they are straight blades with basket hilts. Another example: Schweizer Säbel, Messer, Falchion and Sabre are also distinct and I can see why, but I found that the lines are very blurry. Therefore I wanted to make some houserules and would like to ask you if you can help me, because I am far from being an expert in historical blade weapons.
I would like to discerne different characteristics of blade weapons and their impact on how you fight with said blade.

1. Extension in three dimensions:
Length: The longer the blade, the more reach and leaver you have, but (if all other mesurements remain the same) it also becomes heavier (andthus harder to wield)
Width: The wider the blade the heavier it gets and also wide blades dont penetrate soft armor that good, but I guess when it penetrates it leaes a bigger wound.
Thickness: The thicker a blade the stiffer it gets so its better suited for stabbing. Also - thanks to the schola youtube channel ;) - I know now that thicker blades are more 'forgiving' when it comes to cleaving cuts at a not-so-perfect angle. Of course thicker=heavier

Other properties:
Taper: The pointier your sword is the more its point of balance moves toward the handle and the more its suited for stabbing through soft armour. I guess distal taper has bit less influence on that but on the other hand a bit more on the stiffness and the blades flexing properties.
Curvature: Well most people say that the more a blade is curved the easier it is to cut. I guess that is true to some extend, because its harder to hit your target at a 90degree angle and thus your blade 'automatically' slides after hitting and that sliding motion reinforces the cutting abilities/adds a pull cut to the cleaving. On the other hand curvature shortens your effective reach.
Hilt: I guess this is more a question of historical evolution, in general the less hand protection you wear,the better it is to have a highly elaborated hilt (rings, basket, etc)... or not?
Pommel: I dont know really what to make of this, do different pommel shapes influence what you do with a sword? Ok with a spike on a pommle you can hurt the opponent even better but otherwise? Of course the pommel mass influences the point of balance.
Grip: A longer grip gives you more leverage over the blade and can extend your reach, but I guess in some situations it can get in your own way.

I hope you get what I am going for. I want to represent the complexity of blade weapons by having a more fluid transition between different types.

Thank you so far!

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Re: Blade properties (and their use in an PnP RPG)

Postby Chiron » 01 May 2014 09:14

Ooooh cool you're trying out Jake Norwoods system, been wanting to give it a try.

First there's actually a lot of difference between a Pallash, a Schiovana and a Backsword functionally...

There's also a lot of difference in what the weapon conveys about the wearer, a backsword says soldier, a pallash implies oriental influence, a schiavona implies rank, if one your PCs walk around with a Pallash in the wrong place and time it might get him some unwanted attention, same if a PC shows up in rags with a Schiavona it's going to raise eyebrows.

I like some of your ideas
A wide blade is actually better at cutting soft things.

If you want to some tweaking anyway I would suggest you try and use the "Codex Martialis" it's a system designed by a HEMAist to simulate realistic combat for these kind of weapons, he has an armory three pages long, the system is meant for DnD but it can be manipulated fairly easily to a lot of different systems, especially d20 systems.

Ps. where are you based I might be in the area.
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Re: Blade properties (and their use in an PnP RPG)

Postby swordflasher » 03 May 2014 09:21

Great project!

I'm not sure generalising based on one dimension (length, width etc.) will be the way ahead because as you've said other variables are so important. Maybe best to take it weapon by weapon?

Good luck, and an interesting conversation to start for a first post!
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Re: Blade properties (and their use in an PnP RPG)

Postby ziegenpeter » 03 May 2014 14:14

Thank you for your answers so far!
@Chiron: Now that you mentioned it, a few years ago, I bought the pdf of Codex Martialis, because it was recommended in the Riddle of Steel forums. I was told that it was an DnD adaptation of TROS, but for some reason I never looked much into it. But you reminded me of that little gem, so now I will read it and even look for some updates (already got active in the CM forum again)
I haven't read the articles you posted yet, but thank you already. I am only interested in the weapons properties as a weapon not as a marker for social/ethnic status though.
I'm based in Berlin, go often to Cologne. I know my name suggest me being in southern Germany :mrgreen:
I go to freiburg a couple of times a year though.
@Swordflasher: Thank you for your encouragement!
The problem with taking the thing weapon by weapon is, that it wouldnt reflect the more or less fluid borders between different weapon types. When does a very slim bladed longsword an estuc? Apparently my example about Pallsch/Schiavona/Backsword wasnt that good, I'll have to read Chirons links first...

Thanks again so far,
read you soon!
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