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Brother Oni
2013-05-07, 06:36 AM
Still stealing Thiel's post...


This thread is a resource for getting information about real life weapons and armor. Normally this thread would be in Friendly Banter, but the concept has always been that the information is for RPG players and DMs so they can use it to make their games better.

A few rules for this thread:

This thread is for asking questions about how weapons and armor really work. As such, it's not going to include game rule statistics. If you have such a question, especially if it stems from an answer or question in this thread, feel free to start a new thread and include a link back to here. If you do ask a rule question here, you'll be asked to move it elsewhere, and then we'll be happy to help out with it.

Any weapon or time period is open for questions. Medieval and ancient warfare questions seem to predominate, but since there are many games set in other periods as well, feel free to ask about any weapon. This includes futuristic ones - but be aware that these will be likely assessed according to their real life feasibility. Thus, phasers, for example, will be talked about in real-world science and physics terms rather than the Star Trek canon. If you want to discuss a fictional weapon from a particular source according to the canonical explanation, please start a new thread for it.

Please try to cite your claims if possible. If you know of a citation for a particular piece of information, please include it. However, everyone should be aware that sometimes even the experts don't agree, so it's quite possible to have two conflicting answers to the same question. This isn't a problem; the asker of the question can examine the information and decide which side to go with. The purpose of the thread is to provide as much information as possible. Debates are fine, but be sure to keep it a friendly debate (even if the experts can't!).

No modern real-world political discussion. As the great Carl von Clausevitz once said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," so poltics and war are heavily intertwined. However, politics are a big hot-button issue and one banned on these boards, so avoid political analysis if at all possible (this thread is primarily about military hardware). There's more leeway on this for anything prior to about 1800, but be very careful with all of it, and anything past 1900 is surely not open for analysis. (I know these are arbitrary dates, but any dates would be, and I feel these ones are reasonable.)

No graphic descriptions. War is violent, dirty, and horrific, and anyone discussing it should be keenly aware of that. However, on this board graphic descriptions of violence (or sexuality) are not allowed, so please avoid them.


Previous Threads:
Thread V (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=80863)
Thread VI (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=124683)
Thread VII (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=168432)
Thread VIII (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=192911)
Thread IX (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=217159)
Thread X (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=238042)
Thread XI (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=255453)

Brother Oni
2013-05-07, 07:01 AM
My 175 lb hunting crossbow will shoot a bolt all the way through a 1/2" plywood shield and it's not even nearly as powerful as say, a Mongol recurve.

I'd be careful about assuming that - a modern weapon is far more efficient than its historical counterpart.

A bit of digging indicates that most medieval crossbow prods only pull 4-6", while a modern one pulls 7-8" due to better quality steel and manufacturing tolerances.
Those couple of extra inches would allow for a significant increase in power, so assuming a linear increase in power out:draw distance, your 175lb crossbow could well equal a 350lb medieval one and hence match up against a decent draw weight Mongolian recurve.
This isn't allowing for any other design improvements that modern technology enables (release mechanism, modern string materials, etc).

Speaking of which, I wonder if a modern aluminium or a carbon fibre arrow would get the same sort of penetration as a traditional wood one? I'm thinking not since they're considerably lighter, but I don't have the equipment to test this out.
I'm also somewhat limited in the arrow heads I can obtain in this country due to laws on bow hunting (we're not allowed to so importing modern arrow heads might be a bit tricky).


Basically I think the sword continued to be really important for anybody above the status of cannon fodder until the primary weapon became a multi-use, high kill probablity / low failure rate weapon (i.e. rifle or carbine with cartridges) and the sidearm also became equally effective and reliable (revolver)

I've several depictions of American Civil War officers leading their men into combat with pistol and saber - is this not accurate, or were automatic revolvers not fully reliable/effective yet?

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 08:45 AM
In terms of organization and training, how were High Medieval Scandinavian armies different from German armies of the same period. The Osprey books seem to imply that German armies were more "knight-heavy" while the Scandinavians relied more on militias made up of wealthy, well trained peasants who fought as infantry.

That said, I know that German peasant communities had a very strong tradition of self-defense and often fielded well-equipped militias. At the same time, Scandinavians had a proud, professional (to the extent that anybody was a professional soldier in the middle ages) warrior tradition going back to Viking huskarls.

In Germany, it's an extreme contrast between different specific regions, it's very mixed; some are effectively small feudal kingoms, some are urban republics, some are peasant zones, some are little theocracies.

The best infantry comes from the towns, not so much the peasants who kind of form the second rank, though there are exceptions in areas like the Dithmarschen and the Tyrol where they had very tough peasants. In areas like Brandenburg where there is a really strong feudal system you may have more knights, (this is one of the areas where the famous pistol armed ritter knights became established in the 16th Century) but I actually think very generally speaking Germany was probably a lot less 'knight -heavy' than France. The major fighting force in Germanyby the end of the 15th century were the Landsknechts - mercenary infantry organized on the Swiss model.

From what little I understand about Denmark, it was similar to Germany in many respects; for a lot of their foreign adventures (such as their Crusades and occupation of some of the Baltic regions, as well as of Sweden and Norway under the Kalmar Union) they relied a lot on German knights and mercenaries. Within Denmark proper, by Scandinavian tradition, the peasants had substantial rights and the King was somewhat limited in what he could do to his own people.

Norway was sort of subjugated by Denmark or Sweden or both for a lot of the Medieval era; as well as by the Hanseatic League (Bergen was sort of a colony of the Hanse)

In Sweden during Medieval times you had a small arisotcracy, only a few significant towns like Stockholm (which all had large German populations) and not very many serfs. The vast majority were peasants who owned their own land and enjoyed pretty good rights - including being heavily armed.

Efforts by the Danes (and their German, Italian and Scottish mercenaries) to subjugate the Swedish peasants backfired into rebellions. Due to the frequency of these rebellions, and their increasing successes, the peasants had a lot of good quality arms and armor. A series of risings against the Danes by miners and peasants in places like Dalarna (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engelbrekt_rebellion) led to the peasants being included in the Diet or Riksdag in Sweden which was unusual in Europe (as far as I know only Switzerland also included peasants in the Diet or national Estates) I think the strength of the peasants in Sweden (and also Finland, largely a Swedish fief during the Middle Ages) is due at least in part to the heavily forested landscape.

Both Denmark and Sweden exerted their military force largely through their navies all through the Medieval era, and both had sort of privateer fleets as well as warships protecting their large trading networks. Denmark frequently clashed with the Hanseatic League, Sweden was more often partnered with the league and helped establish it.

G

Rhynn
2013-05-07, 09:10 AM
I've several depictions of American Civil War officers leading their men into combat with pistol and saber - is this not accurate, or were automatic revolvers not fully reliable/effective yet?

During the Civil War, wouldn't those have mostly been cap-and-ball (percussion) revolvers like the Colt 1851 Navy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_1851_Navy_Revolver)? So they weren't using cartridges, and probably weren't as reliable. Given Galloglaich specified cartridges for the rifles and carbines, I expect he meant them for revolvers, too.


(and also Finland, largely a Swedish fief during the Middle Ages)

Really, the separation of Finland and Sweden as entities of the same "rank" after the 13th century and up until 1809 is artificial and kind of modern. (Some slight nationalism recasting Finland as its own entity, since the 19th century.) There was Sweden, which included Norrland (including the north half of what is now Finland), Svealand, Götaland, and Österland (southern half of Finland). It was less a matter of being a fief, and more a matter of being a region.

Edit: Of course, the lands fell out of use and from the 17th century onward we had provinces, which were just provinces of eastern Sweden...

Mike_G
2013-05-07, 09:11 AM
I've several depictions of American Civil War officers leading their men into combat with pistol and saber - is this not accurate, or were automatic revolvers not fully reliable/effective yet?

Revolvers were quite common druing the ACW. What do you mean by "pistol?"

There is a common lithograph style that a lot of ACW art was done in, and that art tends to show what look like flintlock pistols. But they also show very standard uniforms, which was not the case, especially for the confederacy, and every soldier looking like the W.B. Mason office supply guy, so I think that's just artistic license.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bhWtt1Cti7Q/TaDtiTNmrEI/AAAAAAAAA40/PTq66-w4oY4/s1600/CWfisher_hi-res..jpg

Beleriphon
2013-05-07, 09:17 AM
Revolvers were quite common druing the ACW. What do you mean by "pistol?"

There is a common lithograph style that a lot of ACW art was done in, and that art tends to show what look like flintlock pistols. But they also show very standard uniforms, which was not the case, especially for the confederacy, and every soldier looking like the W.B. Mason office supply guy, so I think that's just artistic license.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-bhWtt1Cti7Q/TaDtiTNmrEI/AAAAAAAAA40/PTq66-w4oY4/s1600/CWfisher_hi-res..jpg

I think it depends on the revolver. An 1851 Navy is not a Colt Peacemaker. One use a ball-and-cap percussion while the other uses full cartridges. The Peacemaker with some practice can take about a minute to fully reload while the 1851 can take considerably longer. This is before we even get into the idea of repeat rifles.

I did have a question though. What's with early firearms manufacturers not thinking of using preloaded packages of powder and ball wrapped in paper. I know that format became common eventually, but does anybody know why it took so long for somebody to come up with the idea? Its not all that much of a leap once you look at how early muzzle loading firearms had to be reloaded.

Fortinbras
2013-05-07, 09:34 AM
In Germany, it's an extreme contrast between different specific regions, it's very mixed; some are effectively small feudal kingoms, some are urban republics, some are peasant zones, some are little theocracies.

The best infantry comes from the towns, not so much the peasants who kind of form the second rank, though there are exceptions in areas like the Dithmarschen and the Tyrol where they had very tough peasants. In areas like Brandenburg where there is a really strong feudal system you may have more knights, (this is one of the areas where the famous pistol armed ritter knights became established in the 16th Century) but I actually think very generally speaking Germany was probably a lot less 'knight -heavy' than France. The major fighting force in Germanyby the end of the 15th century were the Landsknechts - mercenary infantry organized on the Swiss model.

In Sweden during Medieval times you had a small arisotcracy, only a few significant towns like Stockholm (which all had large German populations) and not very many serfs. The vast majority were peasants who owned their own land and enjoyed pretty good rights - including being heavily armed.
G

I was under the impression that Germany was much more feudal in the 12th and 13th centuries, which is what I was asking about. Were people like Frederick Barbarossa also fielding armies comprised of urban infantry levies/urban infantry mercenaries (who I think were mainly urban infantry militias who had gone pro?)

As for Sweden, is it fair to say that Swedish armies were primarily rural infantry with a handful of knights mixed in to "stiffen" the ranks? Did Swedish kings have much in the way of large groups of men-at-arms or sergeants or were they more or less reliant on peasant levies?

On the subject of 13th century Sweden, can anyone direct me to a good (English or English translation) source on the Battle of Lena 1208? Is there much known about it?

Spiryt
2013-05-07, 09:35 AM
A bit of digging indicates that most medieval crossbow prods only pull 4-6", while a modern one pulls 7-8" due to better quality steel and manufacturing tolerances.
Those couple of extra inches would allow for a significant increase in power, so assuming a linear increase in power out:draw distance, your 175lb crossbow could well equal a 350lb medieval one and hence match up against a decent draw weight Mongolian recurve.
This isn't allowing for any other design improvements that modern technology enables (release mechanism, modern string materials, etc).


Judging by the pictures, it doesn't even seem that this crossbow is steel, though.

Additional draw lenght is important, of course, but the very first point is that it's pulley bow, and that, if we like it or not, really blows traditional design completely away.

Draw of 175 pounds allow, trough that leverage, to draw way stiffer bow that by applying 175 pounds of force just by pulling by the bow tips.

I have no idea about what model it is, but with 175 pounds, with serious draw lenght, we're probably indeed thinking about 90J at least.

Anyway, just by looking at those Galloglaich pictures, one can tell that it's huge fun, but I don't understand why try to put any real significance on how historical items might might have behaved.

Aluminum tubes may not be most optimal as far as penetrating goes, but they're trough, hard, and generally one don't have to worry about them getting damaged by striking reasonable targets.

They're also very smooth, slick and tough, as mentioned, so after the point breaks trough the plywood, it's not surprising at all, that arrow keeps on sliding forwards anyway, up to 10 inches.

Target point doesn't need much energy to put a hole in something, although I can't see point shape.

Wooden shaft wouldn't obviously behave very similarly, in fact it would probably get jammed quite a lot.

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 09:50 AM
I was under the impression that Germany was much more feudal in the 12th and 13th centuries, which is what I was asking about. Were people like Frederick Barbarossa also fielding armies comprised of urban infantry levies/urban infantry mercenaries (who I think were mainly urban infantry militias who had gone pro?)

Yes though the towns were smalller and he would also have more rural tribal / clan infantry. I know he brought a lot of Czechs and the Italians thought they were quasi-pagan due to their painting their faces and making little child shaped cakes they bit the heads off of.

Typically in this period the ratio of cavalry to infantry is about 1- 4 or 1-5, if I remember correctly. The Italians of course who he is facing are mostly infantry from the urban militias.



As for Sweden, is it fair to say that Swedish armies were primarily rural infantry with a handful of knights mixed in to "stiffen" the ranks? Did Swedish kings have much in the way of large groups of men-at-arms or sergeants or were they more or less reliant on peasant levies?

A lot of mercenaries I think, and organized mostly as ship crews in that period, but yes the actual Swedish armies would be essentially a small number of knights and a core of rural infantry. Swedish Kings didn't have very big entourages or standing armies.

As for that battle, try to find the Swedish wiki and use google translate.

G

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 09:55 AM
Judging by the pictures, it doesn't even seem that this crossbow is steel, though.


It is steel.

G

Brother Oni
2013-05-07, 10:00 AM
Revolvers were quite common druing the ACW. What do you mean by "pistol?"

Small modern-ish looking handgun, probably a revolver (my memory's a bit fuzzy), but I agree artistic license was probably involved.

I was under the impression that cartridge loaded revolvers and rifles were common during the ACW era, but some actual research (:smallredface:) indicates that the ACW was a bit of a transition period with muzzle loaders, caplock, rim fire and centre fire mechanisms involved.


I did have a question though. What's with early firearms manufacturers not thinking of using preloaded packages of powder and ball wrapped in paper. I know that format became common eventually, but does anybody know why it took so long for somebody to come up with the idea?

I would say the cost of paper. Wikipedia says that paper remained comparatively expensive until 19th Century steam driven paper making machines could mass produce the stuff from wood pulp fibres.


I have no idea about what model it is, but with 175 pounds, with serious draw lenght, we're probably indeed thinking about 90J at least.

What model is it, Galloglaich, if you don't mind us asking?



Anyway, just by looking at those Galloglaich pictures, one can tell that it's huge fun, but I don't understand why try to put any real significance on how historical items might might have behaved.

Because getting hold of a traditionallly crafted Mongolian recurve bow is somewhat tricky and expensive, so we like to draw comparisons with what we have available. :smalltongue:

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 10:14 AM
that is definitely not true - paper was relatively cheap and common, made from water wheel powered paper mills, from the 13th Century in Spain and Italy, and throughout Europe by the 14th. It was really the paper revolution which predated the printing press that made the success fo the printing press (mid 15th) possible. There was already a huge and lucrative market for books and manuscripts.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_mill#Water-powered_mills

G

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 10:20 AM
Revolver and a sword seems like a good idea to me- the revolver is probably pretty reliable for 5 or 6 shots but then you may very well need the sword.

G

Spiryt
2013-05-07, 10:27 AM
Because getting hold of a traditionallly crafted Mongolian recurve bow is somewhat tricky and expensive, so we like to draw comparisons with what we have available. :smalltongue:

If it's Mongolian recurve, it's modern 'budget' imitation with synthetic layers, or compound crossbow doesn't really make that much difference TBH.

After all, it doesn't come into any contact with target (unless something goes slapstick-grade wrong:smalltongue:), - so physical properties of actually interacting arrows and target are much more important.

As far as paper cartridges go, it depends on what means by 'common', I guess.

As far as I know, by the end of 16th century, there's already plenty of mentions about them, but they didn't become exactly very common for a long time still.

I would guess that a lot of times, they were quite a lot of trouble for not that much gain, since all the things to do when reloading a musket/arquebus were anyway time consuming and tiring, with or without paper cartridge.

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 10:42 AM
What model is it, Galloglaich, if you don't mind us asking?

Inferno Blitz II, Spiryt was right it's actually a fiberglass bow and it's 150 lbs draw, not 175 :smalleek: Just looked it up.



Because getting hold of a traditionallly crafted Mongolian recurve bow is somewhat tricky and expensive, so we like to draw comparisons with what we have available. :smalltongue:

I am planning to get one of those, or at any rate some traditionally made composite recurve, (maybe Hungarian or Turkish type, I haven't decided) but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Just starting to reaquaint myself with archery at the moment, until recently I hadn't shot any kind of bow since I was around 16.

G

Storm Bringer
2013-05-07, 11:55 AM
I think it depends on the revolver. An 1851 Navy is not a Colt Peacemaker. One use a ball-and-cap percussion while the other uses full cartridges. The Peacemaker with some practice can take about a minute to fully reload while the 1851 can take considerably longer. This is before we even get into the idea of repeat rifles.

I did have a question though. What's with early firearms manufacturers not thinking of using preloaded packages of powder and ball wrapped in paper. I know that format became common eventually, but does anybody know why it took so long for somebody to come up with the idea? Its not all that much of a leap once you look at how early muzzle loading firearms had to be reloaded.

well, I made a post about this about a month ago, and as far I as know, paper cartridges came in at some point before 1700 or so (I'll put it this way: English civil war troops form the 1640's seem to have used wooden cartridges, while Marlborough's troops in the 1700's had paper ones. however, this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KTS8PQ06Qo)shows a re-enactor with a civil war era matchlock using a paper cartridge, which the first time I have seen it used that early).

Before that point, the amount of faffing about needed to load a match-lock weapon (like the vid says, 30 to 60 seconds to reload) meant that their was not that much of a benefit form paper cartridges. however, I have seen people using a small cup roughly the size and shape of a modern cartridge when loading with loose powder, to get the amounts right.


also, early gunpowder had a nasty tendency to "settle" and separate into it's component parts when shaken (like, for example, if carried any distance). It was normal for a long time to only have small amount of power mixed, and then carry the rest un mixed and make more as needed (this also reduced the risk of a powder explosion)

it took a while (not sure how long) before people worked out how to keep the power form separating, which I think Is a major requirement for cartridge loading (being able to cerate a cartridge, carry it about for weeks or even months, then use it with confidence it will work).

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 12:02 PM
Something like a cartridge, with a pre-measured amount of powder and a bullet, I guess wrapped in cloth, was used in the 15th century and pretty common by the 16th, you see them in period art a lot in kind of bandoliers, like this guy

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Arquebusier_(1585).jpg

My understanding (fusilier or somebody can correct me) is that the 'settling' issue was largely solved by the invention of corned powder, which once again was a 15th century thing.

G

Storm Bringer
2013-05-07, 12:09 PM
those are wooded pots, as seen here.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_AqOMam65mrw/TGeQ5BjUiII/AAAAAAAACtc/EfbXKa3NQoU/s1600/English-Civil-War-Reenactment-Soldiers,-Tattershall-Castle,-Lincolnshire.jpg

normal count was 12, I believe. certainly, a nickname for them was the "12 apostles".


also visible in image: smouldering "slow match", which was normally lit at both ends (in case one went out), and his musket rest, which is in his left hand under his hat.

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 12:49 PM
I stand corrected, you are right - the 12 apostles, I forgot about that.

the practice does seem to go back to the 16th century though...

G

FreakyCheeseMan
2013-05-07, 02:16 PM
I've been wondering this for a while...

Are Kukris are good as I think they are? And what's the case against them?

I have one myself (more of a kukri machete than a combat kukri) and I absolutely love it - it's powerful, it's precise, and I use it for everything from kitchen work to clearing paths through the woods to cutting down trees. But, I have barely any experience or training with actual weapon fighting (a few days of knife-fighting in Aikido is the sum total), so I'm not sure how well my experience with a kukri as a tool translates to its effectiveness as a weapon.

One thing in particular I've been told is that the forward curve actually makes it better for stabbing, because you can keep a straight, strong wrist while still driving the point directly into your target: this makes sense to me, but I'm not sure if it's really a notable advantage.

I'm also wondering if they're actually "Harder to use" than straight blades - I know 3.5 classifies them as exotic weapons, but mine feels just as natural to me as a knife does (the weight and size are a bit tricky, but nothing more than I imagine a short sword would be.) Is it actually harder/less intuitive to fight with a kukri than with a simple knife?

I know that a number of real-life military organizations use them, but I'm not sure how much of that is a practical decision, and how much of it is cultural/ceremonial - and if they are practical, is that only in "Modern" combat settings? (where ranged weaponry is the norm, and armour is a much different thing than it would be in a medieval setting.)?

Fortinbras
2013-05-07, 02:32 PM
Yes though the towns were smalller and he would also have more rural tribal / clan infantry. I know he brought a lot of Czechs and the Italians thought they were quasi-pagan due to their painting their faces and making little child shaped cakes they bit the heads off of.

Typically in this period the ratio of cavalry to infantry is about 1- 4 or 1-5, if I remember correctly. The Italians of course who he is facing are mostly infantry from the urban militias.



A lot of mercenaries I think, and organized mostly as ship crews in that period, but yes the actual Swedish armies would be essentially a small number of knights and a core of rural infantry. Swedish Kings didn't have very big entourages or standing armies.

As for that battle, try to find the Swedish wiki and use google translate.

G

I'm sorry to keep belaboring the point, but I remain a little confused. Were their substantial differences between Swedish and German armies in the 12th and 13th centuries?

rrgg
2013-05-07, 02:39 PM
Here's a question for those more familiar with re-enactment. How difficult would it be to physically "hold" someone with a one-handed spear? I mean as in using the spear to stop a charging attacker even if it doesn't penetrate their shield or armor. Does the type of grip make a difference? Is it even something that comes up often?

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 03:15 PM
I'm sorry to keep belaboring the point, but I remain a little confused. Were their substantial differences between Swedish and German armies in the 12th and 13th centuries?

I'm more informed on the 15th century, but my assumption would be yes, in the following ways:

1) Swedish armies would have fewer knights or burghers and more infantry

2) Swedish infantry would be more based on 'peasants' (in the 12th century particularly, these are still kind of more like what you might call clanmembers or tribe members, and there is more of a gray area between knights and peasants). In that sense comparable to Scotland in this period.

3) Swedish armies would have had generally less advanced equipment, especially siege equipment, less advanced armor. More shields. On the other hand the Sweden was one of the better iron and steel producers in Europe all through the Medieval era so they may have had a decent amount of iron kit.

4) Swedish armies would have more naval assets, more ocean going ships, more coastal vessels. Much of their militia would be organized as boat crews.

5) Some weapons and other equipment might be different. This is more speculation but I think the Swedes still had a good number of bows in use in the 12th -13th century (they show up in the musters) as opposed to crossbows which would already be more common in Germany. Swedish peasants seemed to be using these sort of hewing spear type polearms* which you see at Wisby in the 14th Century and later again in the 16th, that I suspect are of pretty old lineage and probably existed back to Viking times. Swedes were probably still using a lot more axes, javelins, and spears than were common elsewhere, and probably still using seaxes or equivalent. Norwegians seemed to use a lot of single-edged swords.

6) Swedes seemed to have particularly good ambush tactics and special tricks for fighting in the forests. Some of these were allegedly the basis of some tricks used by the Finns in the Winter War in the 20th Century.

G


* like you see in the hands of the Swedish peasant to the left

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/73/Dolstein_1.gif

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swordstaff

Fortinbras
2013-05-07, 05:38 PM
Good stuff, thanks Galloglaich.

Galloglaich
2013-05-07, 07:56 PM
You are more than welcome.

G

fusilier
2013-05-07, 08:26 PM
Revolver and a sword seems like a good idea to me- the revolver is probably pretty reliable for 5 or 6 shots but then you may very well need the sword.

G

And most Civil War revolvers were cap-and-ball and could take a considerable time to reload. So if the fighting was getting into hand-to-hand, a sword would be useful.

For an officer during the American Civil War the sword was the only official weapon that he was required to carry, but an officer's job was (and I assume still is) to direct troops in battle, not to personally attack the enemy. For example, an infantry captain in battle line was "covered" by the first sergeant -- who was only to discharge his weapon to protect the Captain.

An officer could choose to arm himself as he saw fit, a revolver was common, but some were known to carry carbines, or even a musket. The sword was used primarily for giving signals on the field.

fusilier
2013-05-07, 08:46 PM
I did have a question though. What's with early firearms manufacturers not thinking of using preloaded packages of powder and ball wrapped in paper. I know that format became common eventually, but does anybody know why it took so long for somebody to come up with the idea? Its not all that much of a leap once you look at how early muzzle loading firearms had to be reloaded.

The earliest paper cartridges I've seen date from the 16th century; one end was plugged with the bullet. They seem to have been rare, and used with hunting weaponry. In the 17th century you start seeing paper cartridges (perhaps more properly "chargers"*) being used in military units, but it's not until the beginning of the 18th century that they become standard.

One reason paper cartridges may have taken a long time to become common, is the general lack of standardization in general. It took sometime before weapons were being made standard enough that a central supply system could provide preloaded ammo. Since the 16th century, large groups of standardized weapons might be ordered, but I think the usual requirement is that they be of the same caliber -- not that they match some national standard caliber.

*I would refer to the wooden tubes with a preloaded amount of powder in them as "chargers" and not a cartridge. In my mind a cartridge combines powder and ball, whereas a charger contains only powder. I don't know if that's a common distinction.

fusilier
2013-05-07, 08:57 PM
I was under the impression that cartridge loaded revolvers and rifles were common during the ACW era, but some actual research (:smallredface:) indicates that the ACW was a bit of a transition period with muzzle loaders, caplock, rim fire and centre fire mechanisms involved.

I suppose it depends upon what is meant by "common" -- cartridge weapons were certainly available. But both sides of the Civil War were primarily armed with muzzle-loading muskets/rifles, and cap-and-ball revolvers. Cavalry were more usually armed with breechloaders, but mostly paper cartridges. However, metallic cartridges certainly "proved" themselves during the Civil War and afterwards they quickly became universal.

warty goblin
2013-05-07, 08:59 PM
And most Civil War revolvers were cap-and-ball and could take a considerable time to reload. So if the fighting was getting into hand-to-hand, a sword would be useful.

I've used a Civil War revolver like that. For the non-proficient such as myself, it takes ten minutes or more to reload, and is a finicky process. With practice I'm sure a person could do it much faster, but probably not while paying attention to their command.

And they're not what I'd call accurate. On the upside the one I fired was very heavy with a lot of brass fittings on the grip, so it would make a quite good club if you needed it. Probably not such a hot (or altogether too hot) an idea if you'd just emptied all six chambers though.

fusilier
2013-05-07, 09:13 PM
I've used a Civil War revolver like that. For the non-proficient such as myself, it takes ten minutes or more to reload, and is a finicky process. With practice I'm sure a person could do it much faster, but probably not while paying attention to their command.

And they're not what I'd call accurate. On the upside the one I fired was very heavy with a lot of brass fittings on the grip, so it would make a quite good club if you needed it. Probably not such a hot (or altogether too hot) an idea if you'd just emptied all six chambers though.

Sometimes a spare preloaded cylinder could be carried. I think the cylinders on Remington revolvers were relatively easy to swap out. But it doesn't seem to have been that common.

warty goblin
2013-05-07, 09:25 PM
Sometimes a spare preloaded cylinder could be carried. I think the cylinders on Remington revolvers were relatively easy to swap out. But it doesn't seem to have been that common.

It wasn't possible with the one I used; we tried but the cylinder was definitely not supposed to come off. The preloaded cylinder trick also seems a bit hard to manage with percussion caps, since they seem liable to fall off. Getting the little bastards onto the ends of the chambers was not an easy process to begin with either. Granted the near freezing temperatures that day probably did not improve our manual dexterity...

Brother Oni
2013-05-08, 02:24 AM
I know that a number of real-life military organizations use them, but I'm not sure how much of that is a practical decision, and how much of it is cultural/ceremonial - and if they are practical, is that only in "Modern" combat settings? (where ranged weaponry is the norm, and armour is a much different thing than it would be in a medieval setting.)?

The Ghurkas are renown for using khurki and they're regarded as some of the finest soldiers in the British Army, so that should say something for their practical use.

As for the cutting, I think JustSomeGuy posted a couple of cutting videos with his khukri in the previous thread, and they did a fairly good job on the pig's feet.
In a combat setting, during Afghanistan a unit of Ghurkas were tasked to kill an enemy commander and bring back his body for identification. They came under fire and were forced to abandon the body, but one enterprising soldier decapitated it first and took the head back for identification (he got in trouble for that).

It's still only essentially a large knife though, primarily intended for all-round utility, and pitting it up against a proper melee weapon (sword, axe, etc) and/or armour (plate, mail, etc) shows up its shortcomings for combat.


Here's a question for those more familiar with re-enactment. How difficult would it be to physically "hold" someone with a one-handed spear? I mean as in using the spear to stop a charging attacker even if it doesn't penetrate their shield or armor. Does the type of grip make a difference? Is it even something that comes up often?

Given a one handed spear is primarily used to stab someone in the face, I would say that would stop them effectively. :smalltongue:

On a more serious note, to actually stop someone charging requires a better grip, mainly support for the end of the spear (both hands gripping the haft is unlikely to do it unless you've got arms and wrists like a gorilla).
This can be done by either placing the rear hand over the end or by bracing the spear between the ground and your back foot, using your front hand to hold the spear up.
You could theoretically use your body/hip to brace the end, but I don't recommend it as it [redacted] hurts when the force of a charging person in armour is applied at the other end.

In my experience of re-enactment (Norman times), you tend to use your shield to stop chargers - the commonly held view of shields being only being useful defensively doesn't last long after you've been pushed back or smacked in the face by one.

Rhynn
2013-05-08, 10:22 AM
Speaking of the American Civil War, is there anything to the idea that it saw unusually brutal casualties in part because of the infantry tactics employed? I've heard (possibly lindybeige, I forget) that European observers were horrified by the way the infantry lines would keep advancing on each other slowly, firing volleys over and over, never making a bayonet charge (the "proper" way to fight up until then) ? Was this actually done, and was it a new or uncommon thing? If it is true, what was the reason for the different tactics?

Beleriphon
2013-05-08, 12:14 PM
In my experience of re-enactment (Norman times), you tend to use your shield to stop chargers - the commonly held view of shields being only being useful defensively doesn't last long after you've been pushed back or smacked in the face by one.

Greek hoplite used one of two thrusts with spears. And underhanded forward thrust that was easier to block but put most of the weight of the attacker into it, and an overhand strike that was weaker but was hard to block. There's very little to suggest that they used the spear itself to stop a charge. By and large their shields were much more effect for that.

Storm Bringer
2013-05-08, 12:26 PM
Speaking of the American Civil War, is there anything to the idea that it saw unusually brutal casualties in part because of the infantry tactics employed? I've heard (possibly lindybeige, I forget) that European observers were horrified by the way the infantry lines would keep advancing on each other slowly, firing volleys over and over, never making a bayonet charge (the "proper" way to fight up until then) ? Was this actually done, and was it a new or uncommon thing? If it is true, what was the reason for the different tactics?

a few things, really.

first, what works in the heavily cultivated farmlands of Europe isn't what works in the much less "tamed" American rural areas, as we brits found out in the War of Independence. The American countryside was simply wilder than European countryside, due to the much shorter period of "civilisation", so a lot of open field tactics that worked well in Europe did not always work so well in the rougher American warzones.


second, the tactics and drill you teach to a long service soldier in peacetime are not the same as you teach to a short term conscript while fighting a war. you need a simplified, easy to teach set of drills that they can pretty much learn as they march to the battlefield. as the war progressed, the tactics naturally changed and evolved as the soldiers became better at their jobs and could move beyond the "billy basics" they started with.

third, at the start of the war, both European and American tactical thought was firmly rooted in the Napoleonic wars, and what worked well in them. however, advances in technology had significantly changed the situation, with infantry fire being vastly more effective in the ACW, which drastically broke the old tactical system wide open.


thirdly, while the bayonet was often threatened in the Napoleonic wars, it was quite rare for it to be actually used to stab someone with. in something like 90%+ of the English language accounts of bayonet charges being launched, one side or the other gives way and brakes before contact, normally the defenders ("sod this, I'm not waiting for them to get here!"). I must add the cravat about English language because I am not familiar with non English accounts, but I understand that the same is true. bayonets were more often used to ward off cavalry, but even then, the horses would not charge onto a row of spikes, so it was still uncommon for them to get blood on their bayonets.

it was normal for units to exchange volley fire for some time before someone attempted to get in close. generally, a charge was only attempted on a wavering enemy weakened by fire form artillery and muskets.

Napoleonic cannon could get close enough to infantry to fire canister ("grapeshot", or a big bag or musket balls that turned the cannon into a massive shotgun), which was devastating to infantry, while still out of musket range. the infantry could not spread out for fear of cavalry, which could cut down open order infantry.

however, the ACW era percussion rifles were able to engage artillery close enough to use canister, so artillery could not get close enough to be as lethal as it was in the past. cavalry, too, could no long charge home like they could before, as the infantry could now just shoot them to pieces, without needing to retreat into a square and wait them out (which was when the artillery was moved foreword to blast the square with grapeshot)



In short, the European observers were applying standards to the war that weren't relevant to the actual situation.

Fortinbras
2013-05-08, 01:10 PM
Sometimes a spare preloaded cylinder could be carried. I think the cylinders on Remington revolvers were relatively easy to swap out. But it doesn't seem to have been that common.

I think the Texas Rangers carried a bunch (I want to say something like ten each, but that would be way off) of extra cylinders for their revolvers. This gave them a decisive advantage the first time the went after the Comanche with their new revolvers and were actually able to match the Comanche's bows in terms of volume of fire.

Mike_G
2013-05-08, 03:18 PM
The revolver would have been used pretty much just in close combat. Before contact, the officer should be giving orders, not fighting. And melee combat was rare, and usually pretty quickly over, so six rounds isn't that bad. A sword for backup is certainly not a bad idea.

In fact, European observers commented that the Americans often didn't press home the attack with the bayonet, instead exchanging fire. Which results in more casualties, but less decisive attacks.

warty goblin
2013-05-08, 06:04 PM
OK, more a source question than anything else. This summer I might have some time to write something besides statistics proofs, and was thinking about working on an idea for a bronze age planetary romance I've had kicking around for a while.

Thus my question; anybody have good sources for the non-historian about the late bronze ages?

fusilier
2013-05-08, 06:34 PM
Speaking of the American Civil War, is there anything to the idea that it saw unusually brutal casualties in part because of the infantry tactics employed? I've heard (possibly lindybeige, I forget) that European observers were horrified by the way the infantry lines would keep advancing on each other slowly, firing volleys over and over, never making a bayonet charge (the "proper" way to fight up until then) ? Was this actually done, and was it a new or uncommon thing? If it is true, what was the reason for the different tactics?

There might be some truth to this, most charges during the Civil War were resolved at some distance (30-40 yards), if the defenders didn't break at that point, the attackers often stopped to exchange volleys. Some officers experimented with having their troops attack with unloaded muskets, in hope that they would press home.

However, for some reason, people tend to hold up the American Civil War as though it was the only war ever fought at that time. That the weaponry used was untried and therefore they were in entirely new circumstances, and they had to figure out new tactics as they went on. This is an extreme exaggeration at best, and totally bogus at worse. Two other wars, fought with similar weaponry in the years immediately preceding the Civil War should be considered:

The first is the Crimean War -- which was a war that, in an interesting similarity to American Civil War, ended with a large, incomplete siege of a major city.

The second is the Franco-Austrian War. This war was short but noted for its ferocity and high casualty rates (it was this war that led to the creation of the Red Cross). In this war the French, who were victorious, were known to have used very aggressive tactics, and a lot of frontal charges. This influenced much of European tactical thinking, and may have led observers to be critical of American tactics.

Could the American Civil War have been fought more decisively if they had used more aggressive tactics? It is not a settled debate!

Americans were in a new circumstance, but it wasn't the weaponry and technology that made it new, it was the scale of the conflict. You had huge numbers of people being recruited. Karl Marx observed that in 1861 (when the armies were just starting to be raised), if you took every single soldier in the regular army and made them a drill instructor (which many would not be suited for), there still wouldn't be nearly enough drill instructors for the Union Army that Lincoln was raising at that early point! So the fact that there was a lot of bumbling about, not really knowing how to fight battles, in my opinion, has more to do with the lack of training and experience in warfare, than in some supposed revolution in weaponry.

EDIT-- I just wanted to point out that this is probably true of most armies in most wars. Unless that army has had recent experience in a major war, there's always some "figuring out" that has to be done when entering a new conflict. In the case of the American Civil War, the effect was probably exacerbated by the scale of the war and the smallness of the American peacetime army.

The Tyler
2013-05-08, 07:48 PM
fusilier's username reminded me of something I've wondered for a while.

What's the difference between a fusil and a musket? And was the dragon firearm just an early version of a carbine?

fusilier
2013-05-08, 08:42 PM
fusilier's username reminded me of something I've wondered for a while.

What's the difference between a fusil and a musket? And was the dragon firearm just an early version of a carbine?

Hehe, that's a big "depends upon who you ask" kind of question. :-)

In English, one description I've heard given for "fusil" is, "a smoothbore rifle"! Despite this being a total non-sequitur, it's actually a good way to remember how the English think of a fusil. In the context of the 18th century, when these terms seem to have been established, a fusil, was much like a civilian rifle -- lighter and smaller caliber than a musket, it was usually more finely made than a military weapon. A fusil was usually a hunting weapon, but light infantry units were some times armed with it, and an officer might carry one.

The French applied the term fusil to weapons that the English would have called a musket. But if you look closely at a Charleville musket, and compare it to a Brown Bess, you might understand how that happened. The French Charleville is not quite so simple and basic of a weapon compared to the Brown Bess, but even more so when compared to earlier matchlock muskets.

These terms evolved in different ways in different nations. By the end of the 19th century, the Italian Carcano long rifle was called a "fucile", whereas the short carbine version of the weapon was, ironically, called a "moschetto" (i.e. musket)!

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "Dragon" firearm (Dragoon?). They tended to be shorter weapons, with a variety of names applied to them, from Arquebus, to Petronel. Carabine, was a name established fairly early, although seems to have taken a while to become predominant. Strangely, some weapons that could be called carbines, were also called "musketoons" in the 19th century (and perhaps 18th?).

The Tyler
2013-05-08, 09:04 PM
Hehe, that's a big "depends upon who you ask" kind of question. :-)

In English, one description I've heard given for "fusil" is, "a smoothbore rifle"! Despite this being a total non-sequitur, it's actually a good way to remember how the English think of a fusil. In the context of the 18th century, when these terms seem to have been established, a fusil, was much like a civilian rifle -- lighter and smaller caliber than a musket, it was usually more finely made than a military weapon. A fusil was usually a hunting weapon, but light infantry units were some times armed with it, and an officer might carry one.

The French applied the term fusil to weapons that the English would have called a musket. But if you look closely at a Charleville musket, and compare it to a Brown Bess, you might understand how that happened. The French Charleville is not quite so simple and basic of a weapon compared to the Brown Bess, but even more so when compared to earlier matchlock muskets.

These terms evolved in different ways in different nations. By the end of the 19th century, the Italian Carcano long rifle was called a "fucile", whereas the short carbine version of the weapon was, ironically, called a "moschetto" (i.e. musket)!

Awesome! That explains a lot.


I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "Dragon" firearm (Dragoon?). They tended to be shorter weapons, with a variety of names applied to them, from Arquebus, to Petronel. Carabine, was a name established fairly early, although seems to have taken a while to become predominant. Strangely, some weapons that could be called carbines, were also called "musketoons" in the 19th century (and perhaps 18th?).

To be honest, I'm not sure exactly what it's supposed to be. I've seen it referenced a few times, either as dragon or as dragoon, and the few times I have seen it, it's used as an explanation of where the term 'dragoon' came from. Given the association with mounted infantry, I thought it may have been an earlier name for carbine.

FreakyCheeseMan
2013-05-08, 09:12 PM
The Ghurkas are renown for using khurki and they're regarded as some of the finest soldiers in the British Army, so that should say something for their practical use.

As for the cutting, I think JustSomeGuy posted a couple of cutting videos with his khukri in the previous thread, and they did a fairly good job on the pig's feet.
In a combat setting, during Afghanistan a unit of Ghurkas were tasked to kill an enemy commander and bring back his body for identification. They came under fire and were forced to abandon the body, but one enterprising soldier decapitated it first and took the head back for identification (he got in trouble for that).

It's still only essentially a large knife though, primarily intended for all-round utility, and pitting it up against a proper melee weapon (sword, axe, etc) and/or armour (plate, mail, etc) shows up its shortcomings for combat.


*Nods* I knew the Ghurkas used it, and I'm familiar with their reputation - I just wasn't sure if their use of kukris was a purely pragmatic decision, or something based more on culture/history.

So... the impression I'm getting is that a kukri packs a lot of lethality for its weight, and has a ton of utility applications on top of that, but it's simply too small to be a front-linesman's weapon of choice (and the shape doesn't translate well to a larger size). Is that accurate?

Also, if it is, does the kurki have any other major weaknesses (say, compared to other weapons of its size/weight)?

warty goblin
2013-05-08, 10:15 PM
So... the impression I'm getting is that a kukri packs a lot of lethality for its weight, and has a ton of utility applications on top of that, but it's simply too small to be a front-linesman's weapon of choice (and the shape doesn't translate well to a larger size). Is that accurate?

The kukri scales up to one-handed sword just fine; forwards curved weapons built along quite similar lines and known variously as the falcata, machaera and kopis enjoyed significant popularity through the ancient world. I have in fact seen it proposed that the Indian kukri is a long distant descendant of the Greek kopis, brought there by Alexander's troops.

The falcata seems to have been invented by Celtic* peoples in Iberia (Spain), independently of the kopis. It seems to have been employed by Carthaginian mercenaries during the Punic Wars. Given the almost uniformly excellent performance of such troops, it seems to have worked just fine.


*The Greeks get all the credit in antiquity, but when it comes to inventing arms and armor the Celts have them beat hands down. The hoplon is great and all, but it isn't nearly as important a development as chainmail or pattern forging steel.


Also, if it is, does the kurki have any other major weaknesses (say, compared to other weapons of its size/weight)?
Rather transparently, it won't be as long.

FreakyCheeseMan
2013-05-08, 11:25 PM
The kukri scales up to one-handed sword just fine; forwards curved weapons built along quite similar lines and known variously as the falcata, machaera and kopis enjoyed significant popularity through the ancient world. I have in fact seen it proposed that the Indian kukri is a long distant descendant of the Greek kopis, brought there by Alexander's troops.

*Scurries off to Google image search*


The falcata seems to have been invented by Celtic* peoples in Iberia (Spain), independently of the kopis. It seems to have been employed by Carthaginian mercenaries during the Punic Wars. Given the almost uniformly excellent performance of such troops, it seems to have worked just fine.

Huh.

On a related note, what are the benefits of forward curves like that? With the kukri, I understand that it actually is supposed to make stabbing easier (straight wrist and all)... that doesn't seem to be the case with a larger blade. Intuitively, I feel like it gives more chopping power, but I'm unable to explain why mechanically.



Rather transparently, it won't be as long.

Huh... it seems like the difference would only be an inch or two, if that (the curve isn't all that severe)... or do you just mean the width of the blade along the curve making it shorter than a longer, thinner blade of the same weight?

Actually, that's another question - how much do very small (say, 2-3 inches) differences in reach matter?

warty goblin
2013-05-09, 12:15 AM
*Scurries off to Google image search*
Huh.

On a related note, what are the benefits of forward curves like that? With the kukri, I understand that it actually is supposed to make stabbing easier (straight wrist and all)... that doesn't seem to be the case with a larger blade. Intuitively, I feel like it gives more chopping power, but I'm unable to explain why mechanically.

Increased cutting power is generally the main benefit. See, you get the best cutting action from a blade when the edge is being pushed or pulled across the surface of what it's cutting. Think about how you chop a carrot. A curved edge makes the action of cutting into a surface draw the edge as the blade passes through.

Now usually a curved sword is sharp on the outside of the curve, although it may be sharpened on both sides for a short length near the point. Even with a straight sword, if cutting with the 'forwards' edge, your hand usually leads the blade somewhat when swinging it. When you hit something, you tend to draw the edge across it just due to that - although you should also push or pull the hilt to get deeper penetration. Having the sword curve backwards complements this.

So why does a falcata, kukri or kopis curve forwards? Look closely at the edge. Near the tip, where the blade starts to narrow, it essentially is curved backwards as well. If you hit right near there, the blade effectively has a lot of curvature, and so can cut even better. It's also quite broad there, and broad blades - those with significant distance between the edges - cut better than thin blades as a rule.

The other reason for that rather unique shape is that it shifts the balance closer to the tip. This basically means it hits harder. Interestingly, later, more traditionally curved swords such as the kilaj had wider blades near the tip, for very much the same purpose. A blade with a center of mass farther from the grip delivers a harder strike than it would if its balance was closer to the hilt. In general.


Huh... it seems like the difference would only be an inch or two, if that (the curve isn't all that severe)... or do you just mean the width of the blade along the curve making it shorter than a longer, thinner blade of the same weight?

Actually, that's another question - how much do very small (say, 2-3 inches) differences in reach matter?
Sometimes not all that much; sometimes a lot. It really, really depends on technique. More length is seldom a bad thing though. Of course for cutting, a wider blade is always nice too.

Brother Oni
2013-05-09, 02:28 AM
So... the impression I'm getting is that a kukri packs a lot of lethality for its weight, and has a ton of utility applications on top of that, but it's simply too small to be a front-linesman's weapon of choice (and the shape doesn't translate well to a larger size). Is that accurate?

Yup, I'd agree with that assessment, although warty's excellent posts have pointed out, the shape scales up quite nicely.

Just in case it wasn't emphasised, the khukuri as it stands, is just too small to be a primary weapon at 15-18" long. In comparison, the gladius, the standard roman infantry short sword, is about twice as long at 25-32".

That said, in the current world where the normal military fighting knife is about 12" long (eg. the KA-BAR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KA-BAR)) or usually designed to be attached as a bayonet, the khukuri has a distinct advantage in reach, weight and intimidation (I believe machetes aren't standard issue in most deployments).

The Ghurkas still have theirs because of their culture and traditions - it just also happens to be a highly effective weapon/tool at the same time. :smallbiggrin:



Sometimes not all that much; sometimes a lot. It really, really depends on technique. More length is seldom a bad thing though.

[Purile schoolboy mode] That's what she said. :smalltongue:

Rhynn
2013-05-09, 04:18 AM
thirdly, while the bayonet was often threatened in the Napoleonic wars, it was quite rare for it to be actually used to stab someone with. in something like 90%+ of the English language accounts of bayonet charges being launched, one side or the other gives way and brakes before contact, normally the defenders ("sod this, I'm not waiting for them to get here!"). I must add the cravat about English language because I am not familiar with non English accounts, but I understand that the same is true. bayonets were more often used to ward off cavalry, but even then, the horses would not charge onto a row of spikes, so it was still uncommon for them to get blood on their bayonets.

That's sort of what I was getting at - as I understand it, bayonet charges weren't for killing the enemy, they were for making the enemy run away. Once one or both sides charge, somebody's going to turn tail and run rather than get in a deadly, nasty melee. Rather like pikes - AFAIK, the best anyone can figure out, a "push of pikes" wouldn't actually happen (if they had, the first rows would have been killed instantly), and what's more likely is that pikemen marched at each other and one side faltered and retreated? Supposedly, Swiss pikemen got their reputation from marching so damn disciplined that no one could imagine they'd be the first to give up... basically victory by bluffing.

There's been two effective bayonet charges (very small-scale) by UK troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, haven't there? IIRC the results were basically the same - the prospect of being face-to-face with someone wielding a bayonet just makes the enemy break and run.

Mr Beer
2013-05-09, 05:58 AM
Maybe this is the wrong thread for the question, but if you were going to design a sword for a superhumanly strong but normal size warrior, what would it look like?

Assuming the wielder was say, 25x normal human strength...so significantly superhuman but way off the Superman-type deal.

Would the ideal length be something like a standard two-handed sword? What about weight, I'm guessing heavily overweight to smash other weapons would be useful? What about materials, would some kind modern material be superior to steel, if weight is not an option?

Storm Bringer
2013-05-09, 06:32 AM
fusilier's username reminded me of something I've wondered for a while.

What's the difference between a fusil and a musket? And was the dragon firearm just an early version of a carbine?

the version of the story I know is that a "fusil" was used to describe early flintlocks, back when they were not standard issue. hence, fusiliers were "special" troops, because they could be deployed to protect things like powder stores without worrying that their slow matches would set off he powder. once flintlocks became standard, the name was kept for pride, basically (like the Grenadier Guards, who for a long time did not have grenades).





There's been two effective bayonet charges (very small-scale) by UK troops in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, haven't there? IIRC the results were basically the same - the prospect of being face-to-face with someone wielding a bayonet just makes the enemy break and run.


basically, yes. the attacks were platoon scale (30 odd blokes), as far as I know, and in both cases, the defenders were so shocked that the normally cautious and casualty-adverse British were charging at them with a sharp pointy things screaming bloody murder that they just fled.

crazedloon
2013-05-09, 06:33 AM
Maybe this is the wrong thread for the question, but if you were going to design a sword for a superhumanly strong but normal size warrior, what would it look like?

Assuming the wielder was say, 25x normal human strength...so significantly superhuman but way off the Superman-type deal.

Would the ideal length be something like a standard two-handed sword? What about weight, I'm guessing heavily overweight to smash other weapons would be useful? What about materials, would some kind modern material be superior to steel, if weight is not an option?
I am no weapons expert so take what I say with a grain of salt so to speak.

But If you are dealing with super strength, particularly on that magnitude, I would assume a sword would be your last choice of weapon. With strength like that you would not need a cutting edge to effectively kill anything you hit meaning you are probably better of with a bludgeoning weapon, particularly because as a whole bludgeoning weapons tend to be sturdier weapons, which will be needed given the force of the blows you will be dealing. The Advantage of that massive strength means you can wield a weapon may times the normal weight of equivalent weapon and still keep it wieldable in a single hand if you desire a shield for extra protection, so I would say the weapon length would be somewhere around the length of your average hand and a half sword as to not make the weapon overly unwieldy but still gives you many options as far as wielding it. As far as a real world equivalent I would say you should check out kanabo-tetsubo and assume it would be made of metal and thicker than your average historical equivalent.

Rhynn
2013-05-09, 07:52 AM
basically, yes. the attacks were platoon scale (30 odd blokes), as far as I know, and in both cases, the defenders were so shocked that the normally cautious and casualty-adverse British were charging at them with a sharp pointy things screaming bloody murder that they just fled.

Only semi-serious, but I guess the screaming is probably a useful component... I expect it has a positive psychological effect on the charging screamers and a negative one on the guys at the other end. :smallbiggrin:

Beleriphon
2013-05-09, 08:24 AM
I am no weapons expert so take what I say with a grain of salt so to speak.

But If you are dealing with super strength, particularly on that magnitude, I would assume a sword would be your last choice of weapon. With strength like that you would not need a cutting edge to effectively kill anything you hit meaning you are probably better of with a bludgeoning weapon, particularly because as a whole bludgeoning weapons tend to be sturdier weapons, which will be needed given the force of the blows you will be dealing.

Well boxers can generate 5000 newtons of force. If you make that 25 times higher you get 125000 newtons. That's the rough equivalent of 12.75 TONS of force. Its like getting hit with a good sized truck, but with somebody's fist! If you were 25 times stronger than a human you don't need weapons, you can just beat people to death with fists that hit like a speeding cement truck.

Galloglaich
2013-05-09, 08:27 AM
fusilier's username reminded me of something I've wondered for a while.

What's the difference between a fusil and a musket? And was the dragon firearm just an early version of a carbine?

A dragon is a type of short blunderbus or blunderbus-pistol. It's sort of an early shotgun. They were used by mounted troops that fought on foot... hence, dragoon.

I think they were also popular with ship-crews and marines.

G

crazedloon
2013-05-09, 08:41 AM
Well boxers can generate 5000 newtons of force. If you make that 25 times higher you get 125000 newtons. That's the rough equivalent of 12.75 TONS of force. Its like getting hit with a good sized truck, but with somebody's fist! If you were 25 times stronger than a human you don't need weapons, you can just beat people to death with fists that hit like a speeding cement truck.

essentially the logic I was going with when I suggested a bludgeoning weapon. I am assuming the super human still has concern for his own skin thus the need to use a weapon which gives the advantage of reach as well as mechanical advantage. If you think of the fact the average 1.5 sword will be around 3 pounds and can be easily wielded by a normal human our super human is swinging around a 75 pound bludgeon, for a lack of a better term, with equal agility and he will have little problems with your average human.

Galloglaich
2013-05-09, 09:02 AM
that or just throw rocks... which is what I suggested last time this question came up a few weeks ago.


G

Spiryt
2013-05-09, 09:06 AM
Huh... it seems like the difference would only be an inch or two, if that (the curve isn't all that severe)... or do you just mean the width of the blade along the curve making it shorter than a longer, thinner blade of the same weight?

Actually, that's another question - how much do very small (say, 2-3 inches) differences in reach matter?


Yeah, both the curvature, and general cross-section form the weapon that's going to naturally have way less reach than more 'straight' design.

If 2-3 inches really matters, depends on really dozens of things, like terrain, situation, users skills and mind-state, numbers of combatants, if people can actually use reach, or are failing into one another, and so on.

But generally, yeah, it can mean a lot, 3 inches of blade in cut will very often be just enough to cause a lot of bodily harm, when they reach.

And generally, reach difference will be generally much larger, kukri's have pronounced curvature etc.

Large kukri will weight about 2 pounds and have blade like 18 inches long in straight line, at most.

2 pound sword/large dagger things can be way longer than 2 feet, while steel having quite bold, broad profiles.

Rhynn
2013-05-09, 09:28 AM
Well boxers can generate 5000 newtons of force. If you make that 25 times higher you get 125000 newtons. That's the rough equivalent of 12.75 TONS of force. Its like getting hit with a good sized truck, but with somebody's fist! If you were 25 times stronger than a human you don't need weapons, you can just beat people to death with fists that hit like a speeding cement truck.

Specifically, a 19 metric ton tractor trailer truck accelerating as fast as an Aston Martin (~6.5 m/s^2), unless I've got the math all wrong. (force / acceleration = mass, mass * acceleration = force, force / mass = acceleration)


that or just throw rocks... which is what I suggested last time this question came up a few weeks ago.

By way of a funny coincidence, this is also the best way to leverage great strength for damage in D&D 3E... :smallbiggrin:


If you think of the fact the average 1.5 sword will be around 3 pounds and can be easily wielded by a normal human our super human is swinging around a 75 pound bludgeon, for a lack of a better term, with equal agility and he will have little problems with your average human.

Are you sure about "equal agility" ? You generally can't just scale things up and have them behave "the same, only bigger." Good weapons - swords particularly - are carefully balanced and shaped, and take advantage of the properties of their metal and their own construction. A 20' metal pole is probably going to be a slightly horrible weapon, because when you're turning the end you're holding, the far end (that you're trying to hit someone with) is going to be making a wider turn, and the weight of the weapon is going to put strain on it. "25 times stronger" doesn't mean much of anything, but a 75 pound (assuming stronger = mass/lifting) sword, for instance, is almost certainly going to be awful.

FWIW, people generally didn't get bigger swords just because they were stronger. Bigger swords like zweihanders were for specific purposes, and the same 2-pound arming sword would be just as good a weapon for the big guy as for the small guy, generally.

Really, though, why would you even bother with a weapon? If your fist delivers the force of an Aston Martin -speed tractor trailer (another interpretation of "25 times stronger"), I can't imagine a weapon making much of a difference. It'd probably just be demolished. (Although I have to wonder if the fists are also durable enough to endure that force, in which case you can probably forget about armor, too - if your body can take that kind of force, you're pretty much impervious to man-portable weapons.)

Spiryt
2013-05-09, 09:41 AM
Specifically, a 19 metric ton tractor trailer truck accelerating as fast as an Aston Martin (~6.5 m/s^2), unless I've got the math all wrong. (force / acceleration = mass, mass * acceleration = force, force / mass = acceleration)


Well, 1 newton is just 1kg per m/s2, so it seems roughly correct.


Honestly, though, something being '25 times' stronger is already getting rather abstract.

Specifically, to actually use even tiny fractions of that force, muscle/skeletal system would also need to be made from some indestructium. To actually survive that forces. So we quickly need more supernatural qualities.

As far as punching goes, increase in static, or even dynamic strength obviously has no direct effect on punching power.

Punching is essentially swinging ones body in coordinated way, to hit stuff with a lot of energy.

Being able to act with 25 times greater force doesn't, in any way, mean that one will be able to punch 25 times harder.

Fist, forearm, shoulder, back, etc. still weight about the same, and can just as fast, so applying some ridiculous amount of push/torque behind that can only empower the impact so much.

More 'rational' way of unarmed fighting for such physical fallacy would be grappling, I guess.

Creature that was so powerful, however it's possible, could just sewer the tendons/bones without any wrestling/jiu-jitsu/judo leverage needed.


Chimpanzees can already mutilate other apes horribly with their bare hands, and they're obviously just 'possibly' powerful. They can also bite though.

Rhynn
2013-05-09, 10:36 AM
Honestly, though, something being '25 times' stronger is already getting rather abstract.

Yeah, I honestly feel like the number was pulled out of thin air. It doesn't MEAN anything by itself. Lifting 25 times more (than who?) doesn't translate to hitting 25 times harder (than who?)... and once you're outside of theoretical/possible human ability, it's impossible to say anything definitive anyway.

And yeah, delivery of force is a very different matter, anyway. (For that matter, the truck was a horrible comparison because it's not shaped anything like a fist!) How fast you decelerate on impact is going to have more of an influence there, right? Force from a blow isn't exerted in one instant, it's exerted over fractions of a second.

And yeah, grabbing and squeezing/pulling would probably have completely horrible effects with that sort of strength, too. Grab the head and squeeze it into a bloody raisin, grab the arms and pluck them off, etc.

Fortinbras
2013-05-09, 12:38 PM
I've seen a lot of depictions of knights and well-armed infantry in pictures and movies wearing mail chausses when fighting on foot. Can anybody who's actually worn mail speak to practicality of doing this?

Galloglaich
2013-05-09, 05:35 PM
Regarding the Kurkri, hard to say anything definitively, but in the hands of a genuine Gurkha, they seem to be bloody effective

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishnu_Shrestha

G

Mr Beer
2013-05-09, 06:12 PM
Cool, thanks for replies all.

This came about because of a long standing thought process I've had concerning how "real world" superheroes might act. Say you have a situation where some people acquire low grade superpowers, like a sort of Wild Cards deal and some of them end up fighting a lot, would they end up using hand weapons tailored to get the most out of their strength?

I can see how high-end superheroes would only use fists, if you can punch through tanks, pretty much anything you hit someone with is going to fall apart. But maybe there's a sweet spot here where some of these guys would use enhanced human weapons.

I agree a scaled up 25x fist impact would be lethal, I'm thinking about weapons though because:

1. Presumably the extra reach would be useful.

2. Assuming the super-person is resistant but not immune to human-strength weapon strikes, parrying could still be useful.

3. I think a weapon would still do more damage than fists, therefore useful against heavily armoured opponents/metal shields and the like.

4. He might need the extra momentum in order to effectively leverage his superhuman strength - see below.

Is this reasonable or not really?

With regards to the 25x figure, it is kind of pulled out of thin air. My estimation is that the strongest possible human is about x5 stronger than a normal, physically active man. So the superhuman in question is as strong to world's strongest man (WSM) as the WSM is to Joe Average. As I said, definitely superhuman but not high-end Marvel type strength. He's not throwing cars at helicopters, for example.

For scaling fist damage, it makes sense that 25x lifting strength doesn't equal 25x punching force. I'm not really sure exactly what I've got in mind here...I "feel" that the superhuman should hit a lot harder than a human but without being "super fast" as well, I don't think x25 as hard.

Now, if this punch scaling does not occur, it makes sense to have a super-heavy weapon, no? By being strong enough to swing that weapon, he would do a lot of damage due to the additional momentum?

If that's the case, does it make sense to construct the weapon from exotic material? If an oversized sword doesn't make sense, what about some kind of club made of tungsten carbide? Or some strong alloy wrapped around a depleted uranium core, to concentrate the impact?

Again, thanks for the replies all, if this is against the idea of a Real World thread, I can move this to it's own thread. I just wanted to take advantage of a cluster of weapon experts.

warty goblin
2013-05-09, 06:23 PM
Just use a big iron pry-bar. Even wimpy little me can wreck stuff pretty well with one.

Thiel
2013-05-09, 07:53 PM
I'd go in a completely different direction. With 25 times normal strength he'll be more than capable of handling an MG3 on full auto as well as one of those 500 round ammo backpacks the US Army tried to develop in the sixties. Heck, he could probably handle two or three times as much ammo as that and a complete set of Class IV body armour.

warty goblin
2013-05-09, 08:05 PM
I'd go in a completely different direction. With 25 times normal strength he'll be more than capable of handling an MG3 on full auto as well as one of those 500 round ammo backpacks the US Army tried to develop in the sixties. Heck, he could probably handle two or three times as much ammo as that and a complete set of Class IV body armour.

That, or one of those nifty grenade machine guns they have now. Why shoot them when you can explode them?

Mr Beer
2013-05-09, 10:28 PM
I'd go in a completely different direction. With 25 times normal strength he'll be more than capable of handling an MG3 on full auto as well as one of those 500 round ammo backpacks the US Army tried to develop in the sixties. Heck, he could probably handle two or three times as much ammo as that and a complete set of Class IV body armour.

Well if it comes to that, I would think an M2 50 Cal heavy machine gun would be the go, weight divided by 25 = less than 2 kilos equivalent. But I was specifically thinking of melee weapons.

I did contemplate an oversized version of an AA-12 full automatic shotgun, maybe...4 gauge? Could be interesting for room clearing anyway.

lsfreak
2013-05-09, 10:39 PM
I'd go in a completely different direction. With 25 times normal strength he'll be more than capable of handling an MG3 on full auto as well as one of those 500 round ammo backpacks the US Army tried to develop in the sixties. Heck, he could probably handle two or three times as much ammo as that and a complete set of Class IV body armour.

The 25mm autocannon fitted on several IFV's is in the 250 pound range, which is proportionally a third or more lighter than a light machine gun. It would need modification, of course, for holding/feeding/aiming/firing.

Mr Beer
2013-05-09, 11:29 PM
Thinking about it, it would be criminal not to use one of these, at least for rifle purposes:

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y106/mrbeer/minigun_zpsde5d38ff.jpg (http://s4.photobucket.com/user/mrbeer/media/minigun_zpsde5d38ff.jpg.html)

Brother Oni
2013-05-10, 01:57 AM
Just use a big iron pry-bar. Even wimpy little me can wreck stuff pretty well with one.

Indeed. It was Billy Butcher's go to weapon in The Boys, which is a deconstruction of the superhero genre (he was a superpowered government agent).

One small thing missing from all the force calculations earlier - bear in mind that all that force is going to be concentrated in the impact area the size of a human fist, thus the penetration is going to be significantly increased.

This isn't including more advanced hand to hand techniques like foreknuckle punches or knife hands.

Mr Beer
2013-05-10, 01:59 AM
Indeed. It was Billy Butcher's go to weapon in The Boys, which is a deconstruction of the superhero genre (he was a superpowered government agent).

Implyin' I don't know The Butcha? Are you 'avin a bubble mate?

Brother Oni
2013-05-10, 06:25 AM
Implyin' I don't know The Butcha? Are you 'avin a bubble mate?

Sorry mate, fought you woz a septic.

JustSomeGuy
2013-05-11, 04:03 AM
Is this some southern ***** joke that northern ***** don't get?

Mr Beer
2013-05-11, 04:35 PM
Is this some southern ***** joke that northern ***** don't get?

We was talkin' Cockney guv, bit of the old banter what kept our spirit alive in the Blitz. Apples and pairs, knees up round the joanna, ain't the Queen muvva got a lovely smile, know what I mean guv?

Knaight
2013-05-12, 10:45 PM
Well if it comes to that, I would think an M2 50 Cal heavy machine gun would be the go, weight divided by 25 = less than 2 kilos equivalent. But I was specifically thinking of melee weapons.

Flat out dividing the weight doesn't work for a few reasons, starting with elongated systems and torque. Lets take an extreme here, and assume the character is using something like an over sized sledgehammer, which they can do compliments of super strength. Now, say that the sledgehammer ends up with the middle on top of a narrow surface somehow, more or less at rest - this isn't hugely plausible, but it . Regardless of how strong the character is, if the hammer is heavier than they are the end will move down, they will be pulled up, and mass is going to end up far more relevant than strength.

Now, that's obviously somewhat contrived, but the principle remains the same at more plausible levels. Super strength doesn't really solve issues with extreme mass particularly well, and that mass does create big forces if it is being thrown around, at which point problems along the lines of frictional forces between the wielder and the ground not being sufficient due to their low weight suddenly arise. They might be able to slam a heavy vehicle with a ridiculously heavy club, but they will slide around on impact, which is profoundly unhelpful. As such, even with very dramatic strength weight increase is probably not the best idea, particularly if it is on something that will move a lot.

Mr Beer
2013-05-12, 11:34 PM
Yeah, that makes sense, I had realised that wielding a weapon say, as heavy as they are, would be a bad idea for the reasons you described. But I hadn't considered stance/friction issues with lighter weights.

AgentPaper
2013-05-13, 01:28 AM
Not to mention Newton's Law. Punch someone with enough force to send them through a brick wall, and you can be sure that there's an identical hole in the wall behind you as well. (because you went flying through it)

Brother Oni
2013-05-13, 02:11 AM
Not to mention Newton's Law. Punch someone with enough force to send them through a brick wall, and you can be sure that there's an identical hole in the wall behind you as well. (because you went flying through it)

This doesn't sound right to me. Somebody mentioned earlier that a boxer can generate about 5000N of force, more than enough to knock their opponent flying, but since a boxing match doesn't resemble a wuxia film, I think the physics is more complicated than it seems.

I'm not a physicist, but if you apply more force than the opposing object can generate, won't the force simply carry on through the object, sending it flying, and continue on its original vector at a reduced rate?

Edit: Oh sorry, did you mean within the context of super strength and the strong man generating more force than the frictional forces between the ground and himself?

Thiel
2013-05-13, 02:38 AM
Flat out dividing the weight doesn't work for a few reasons, starting with elongated systems and torque. Lets take an extreme here, and assume the character is using something like an over sized sledgehammer, which they can do compliments of super strength. Now, say that the sledgehammer ends up with the middle on top of a narrow surface somehow, more or less at rest - this isn't hugely plausible, but it . Regardless of how strong the character is, if the hammer is heavier than they are the end will move down, they will be pulled up, and mass is going to end up far more relevant than strength.

Now, that's obviously somewhat contrived, but the principle remains the same at more plausible levels. Super strength doesn't really solve issues with extreme mass particularly well, and that mass does create big forces if it is being thrown around, at which point problems along the lines of frictional forces between the wielder and the ground not being sufficient due to their low weight suddenly arise. They might be able to slam a heavy vehicle with a ridiculously heavy club, but they will slide around on impact, which is profoundly unhelpful. As such, even with very dramatic strength weight increase is probably not the best idea, particularly if it is on something that will move a lot.

Hence why I suggested the MG3. Suppressive fire from the hip standard ops for patrol sections when they are attacked. With super strength accurate shooting from the shoulder should be perfectly possible.


This doesn't sound right to me. Somebody mentioned earlier that a boxer can generate about 5000N of force, more than enough to knock their opponent flying, but since a boxing match doesn't resemble a wuxia film, I think the physics is more complicated than it seems.

I'm not a physicist, but if you apply more force than the opposing object can generate, won't the force simply carry on through the object, sending it flying, and continue on its original vector at a reduced rate?


That's because the boxer is moving into the punch, so the force has to stop him before he can start to move backwards. It's the same reason why open bolt firearms tends to have lower felt recoil than an equivalent closed bolt weapon. A portion of the recoil forces goes into stopping the bolt rather than into the shooter's shoulder.

Rhynn
2013-05-13, 02:54 AM
This doesn't sound right to me. Somebody mentioned earlier that a boxer can generate about 5000N of force, more than enough to knock their opponent flying, but since a boxing match doesn't resemble a wuxia film, I think the physics is more complicated than it seems.

I'm not a physicist, but if you apply more force than the opposing object can generate, won't the force simply carry on through the object, sending it flying, and continue on its original vector at a reduced rate?

Edit: Oh sorry, did you mean within the context of super strength and the strong man generating more force than the frictional forces between the ground and himself?

Yeah, a naive application of Newton's laws pretty much ignores the actual physics of combat. If you're punching someone, you're probably going to be stepping or at least turning into it (you couldn't be exerting that much force if you weren't, since punching power comes from the legs and the waist, from moving forward and from turning into it); and the reason people get knocked back isn't because they're hit by a force that propels them back, it's because they're put out of balance. To knock someone over, you only need to apply enough force to move part of their body so they overbalance. Getting your head jerked back hard and fast might do it, and losing consciousness even for a split second from your brain getting jolted against your skull is going to help!

For instance, many people who actually shoot people will swear that bullets really do throw you back in impact, but that's a physical impossibility, at least naively. The effects are more complicated, both physically and psychologically. Obviously, the movie effect of flying back with all limbs in the air never happens. People may get unbalanced or get really damn frightened really damn suddenly, basically, and flail around and fall over.

Mr Beer
2013-05-13, 06:36 AM
Not to mention Newton's Law. Punch someone with enough force to send them through a brick wall, and you can be sure that there's an identical hole in the wall behind you as well. (because you went flying through it)

I think if you punched someone hard enough to send them through a brick wall, you would have hit them hard enough to punch right through their chest instead and no-one goes flying anywhere, except maybe some of the punchee's lungs. But maybe you're talking about 2 supers hitting each other?

Mr Beer
2013-05-13, 06:40 AM
For instance, many people who actually shoot people will swear that bullets really do throw you back in impact, but that's a physical impossibility, at least naively. The effects are more complicated, both physically and psychologically. Obviously, the movie effect of flying back with all limbs in the air never happens. People may get unbalanced or get really damn frightened really damn suddenly, basically, and flail around and fall over.

Not that I hold this up to be a definitive Source of Truth, but I saw a Mythbuster's episode in which they investigated whether bullets might throw someone back.

They hung pig carcasses up with a sort of hook arrangement so if they were pushed back significantly, the carcass would fall off. Then they shot at them with various firearms.

The conclusion was taking a full load from a 12 gauge might be hard enough to knock you over but pistols/rifles/light automatic fire wouldn't and that people fell over for the reasons you described and possibly sometimes because they expected to fall over if shot.

Brother Oni
2013-05-13, 06:48 AM
For instance, many people who actually shoot people will swear that bullets really do throw you back in impact, but that's a physical impossibility, at least naively. The effects are more complicated, both physically and psychologically. Obviously, the movie effect of flying back with all limbs in the air never happens. People may get unbalanced or get really damn frightened really damn suddenly, basically, and flail around and fall over.

I think Mythbusters did a test on this and found that anything smaller than a .50 was unable to knock their test dummy off the rig (and even that was barely able to). A shotgun managed to do it, but they had to be fairly close so that all the pellets hit the target.

To support your flailing argument, there's an old video about of a disgruntled former client attacking a lawyer on camera with a small calibre revolver (I think a .38). The lawyer managed to keep a telegraph pole between him and his attacker and walked away from the incident after the client ran out of ammo, even though he had been shot several times (presumably in non-fatal areas).

Rhynn
2013-05-13, 07:09 AM
The conclusion was taking a full load from a 12 gauge might be hard enough to knock you over but pistols/rifles/light automatic fire wouldn't and that people fell over for the reasons you described and possibly sometimes because they expected to fall over if shot.

That last bit is probably part of it, yes. As far as I know (from reading up on wound ballistics, FBI reports, etc., for purposes of a realistic cyberpunk combat system; I'm no expert or pro, just a nerd), a lot of the effects of being shot are psychological. Some people "shut down" mentally when they get shot.

Conversely, some people are Michael Platt or William Matix (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1986_FBI_Miami_shootout), and keep shooting and killing despite numerous gunshot wounds (including lethal wounds), mostly because of their psychology. (Being trained as a Marine or a Ranger no doubt helps.)

Straybow
2013-05-13, 05:28 PM
I think if you punched someone hard enough to send them through a brick wall, you would have hit them hard enough to punch right through their chest instead and no-one goes flying anywhere, except maybe some of the punchee's lungs. But maybe you're talking about 2 supers hitting each other?

No, a fist doesn't impart its momentum that quickly. The puncher drives through the target, continuing to exchange momentum from body movement after the initial impact.

Somebody makes a fist-sized projectile that fires from a shotgun. I dunno if it has a special cartridge, but in any case it is a giant slug of comparatively soft plastic. It's designed to break bones and disable without penetration.

Beleriphon
2013-05-13, 07:14 PM
No, a fist doesn't impart its momentum that quickly. The puncher drives through the target, continuing to exchange momentum from body movement after the initial impact.

Somebody makes a fist-sized projectile that fires from a shotgun. I dunno if it has a special cartridge, but in any case it is a giant slug of comparatively soft plastic. It's designed to break bones and disable without penetration.

Yeah, fists are designed quite explicitly not to penetrate the body. I've read some interesting research that suggests that early hominids got a bit of an advantage in the hand arrangement department (ie. our thumbs) when it came to fighting other hominids. It basically gave our evolutionary ancestors a built in weapon to fight each other with, and those that could form tighter fists had better natural weapons.

Mr Beer
2013-05-13, 07:21 PM
No, a fist doesn't impart its momentum that quickly. The puncher drives through the target, continuing to exchange momentum from body movement after the initial impact.

Somebody makes a fist-sized projectile that fires from a shotgun. I dunno if it has a special cartridge, but in any case it is a giant slug of comparatively soft plastic. It's designed to break bones and disable without penetration.

I'm confident a fist would penetrate a human if it imparted sufficient momentum to drive that person through a brick wall. There's a huge difference between forcibly knocking someone back and accelerating them to the point where they smash through rigid architecture.

Force
2013-05-13, 09:09 PM
Short and sweet-- how lethal is, say, a hundred grams of explosive at close quarters?

Long and (hopefully not) sour: For a freeform Stargate RP, I'm considering creating a very small, flying drone that can fly near enemies under active camoflauge and detonate near their heads. It uses naquadah (substance that basically multiplies explosive effect, a 1 megaton nukes becomes a 1.2 gigaton nuke, etc) wrapped in advanced chemical explosives for its payload. My question is, how energetic would the payload have to be in grams of TNT-equivalent to turn the enemy's head into chunky salsa?

Shaping the blast so it turns into a plasma jet that fries the head is also a possibility.

fusilier
2013-05-13, 09:40 PM
I think Mythbusters did a test on this and found that anything smaller than a .50 was unable to knock their test dummy off the rig (and even that was barely able to). A shotgun managed to do it, but they had to be fairly close so that all the pellets hit the target.

There was an interesting discussion on a physics forum about what kind of bullet would be more "damaging" -- their consensus was that older, bigger rounds would do more damage. Damage being derived from force, the older rounds had more momentum (even though newer ones had more energy). I would suspect that if you are looking to knock someone over, a large caliber musket would probably do a better job of it. Even then, it's not going to send someone "flying" through the air, but might be enough force to knock them off balance . . . depending upon where the projectile hit.

EDIT-- Civil War soldiers often reported that being shot by a musket ball felt like being "kicked by mule." Also, they were known to tear their uniforms off, looking for the wound -- they were in shock and couldn't actually tell where they had been hit.

Mr Beer
2013-05-13, 10:13 PM
Short and sweet-- how lethal is, say, a hundred grams of explosive at close quarters?

I'm far from expert, but the lethality of the explosion itself varies radically with distance. So 100g of any modern explosive detonated in contact with the skull would be instantly lethal but if it was 3 metres away, probably not deadly (though it would be terrible for their eardrums).

This concussion grenade has 200g of TNT in it and is apparently lethal to 2 metres in the open:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MK3A2
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand_grenade

Frag grenades kill further out but use shrapnel to kill.

If I had some sci-fi substance that multiplies the explosive effect by x1,200 as you've stated, then I would use a drone the size of a small insect with a 0.1g payload that lands on the target's head or neck before exploding. Instant kill and hard to see it coming

Raum
2013-05-13, 11:02 PM
Short and sweet-- how lethal is, say, a hundred grams of explosive at close quarters?Depends on the explosive. There are big differences between black powder, gun cotton, TNT, C4, and other explosives.


My question is, how energetic would the payload have to be in grams of TNT-equivalent to turn the enemy's head into chunky salsa?One gram of TNT equivalent is defined as one kilocalorie...the amount of energy needed to raise one gram of water one degree Celsius. An undirected explosion of 100g of TNT would probably injure but not kill. Blinding or scarring are likely.


Shaping the blast so it turns into a plasma jet that fries the head is also a possibility.Shaping the blast requires either mass or velocity, not something a tiny drone is likely to have. You'd probably be better off using them as "guided bullets" - rockets that can follow a target but hit at speed. Though rocket based ammo has its own set of issues.

If your drone is larger enough to shape/direct the blast, it would be far more effective.

Edit: Death or serious injury is possible. I don't want to make light of it. It's simply going to be far more effective if it's directed or contained rather than going of next to the target. For reference, original M80 firecrackers are ~3-5g equivalents. New ones are limited to 50 mg.

Brother Oni
2013-05-14, 03:16 AM
There was an interesting discussion on a physics forum about what kind of bullet would be more "damaging" -- their consensus was that older, bigger rounds would do more damage. Damage being derived from force, the older rounds had more momentum (even though newer ones had more energy).

I think bullet design would also have a significant effect since hollowpoints are far more damaging than ball rounds to unarmoured targets. Frangible rounds particularly, such as the glaser safety slugs, appear to make mulch out of soft targets at least according to the videos on youtube.

All other things being equal though, I agree that the larger slower round would be more likely to knock people over.



EDIT-- Civil War soldiers often reported that being shot by a musket ball felt like being "kicked by mule." Also, they were known to tear their uniforms off, looking for the wound -- they were in shock and couldn't actually tell where they had been hit.

When you have 19mm balls being fired at you, it's going to hurt. :smalltongue:
I was reading an account of the Pennisular War where it was sometimes reported that the musket balls were amputating hands and other appendages if the ball hit a lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) spot.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-14, 03:45 AM
When you have 19mm balls being fired at you, it's going to hurt. :smalltongue:
I was reading an account of the Pennisular War where it was sometimes reported that the musket balls were amputating hands and other appendages if the ball hit a lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) spot.

Reminds me of the old trusted tactic of "let the army stand still while artillery shoot back and forth at chest height, watch cannon balls plow man-wide ditches in the sea of men" thing that was done up to the Napoleon wars. Ridiculous tactics from todays perspective but it was just part of war, back then (late 16th to early 19th century warfare).

Layman observations below:

Anyway, the whole force / hand thing.

No, Newton's law does not mean "identical" reaction, to begin with, it means "equivalent" reaction. So if you, somehow, is powerful enough to punch someone through a brick wall, not only are you already in a forward momentum that the counter force has to stop, but you are also braced for impact automatically, at least partially.

Regarding fists:

Fists as weapons might have been handy for fights, but they were a secondary use in that case; I have not heard of this particular theory before. As far as weapons go the fact that we can grab tools, not to mention the act of throwing with an ability to aim (something very very few animals can do, and almost all of them are also apes; most animals can't throw at all, much less with aim) are making better use of our hands and arms than beating someone with our fists if we really want to hurt someone. That said, we without a doubt automatically clench our fists when we get angry so there is definitely an instinct there.

As for punching through someone... If we are not talking about supers, it seems to me that the old "space ball of trash is best repulsed with a new new york ball of trash" thing is very fitting. Yes, humans can crack stone or boards with our fists, but hitting meat and bones with meat and bones will possible crack the bones, but it will not punch a fist-shaped hole right through someone.


I think bullet design would also have a significant effect since hollowpoints are far more damaging than ball rounds to unarmoured targets. Frangible rounds particularly, such as the glaser safety slugs, appear to make mulch out of soft targets at least according to the videos on youtube.

Sidenote: Swedish police often uses shredder rounds (hollow point) because they will not go all the way through a target and hit someone innocent behind.

Mr Beer
2013-05-14, 03:54 AM
As for punching through someone... If we are not talking about supers, it seems to me that the old "space ball of trash is best repulsed with a new new york ball of trash" thing is very fitting. Yes, humans can crack stone or boards with our fists, but hitting meat and bones with meat and bones will possible crack the bones, but it will not punch a fist-shaped hole right through someone.

The scenario that I surmised would result in a penetrative punch was one in which the puncher was knocking his opponent through a brick wall...cartoon representations of Mr T aside, this is safely in the superhuman realm.

Rhynn
2013-05-14, 04:00 AM
Question: How much of the skills needed to shoot accurately are shared between different weapons? How different are special situations like sniping from regular use?

I'm working out a cyberpunk ruleset based on Fuzion (Artesia: Adventures in the Known World, Sengoku, Bubblegum Crisis) and Cyberpunk 2020's Interlock, and I'm planning to use specialties for skills. Marksmanship (skill for using small arms) is probably going to be the most popular skill, judging by my CP2020 experience, so it's getting special consideration; and my weapon categories will obviously have to match it to a degree. Basically, specialties directly increase your skill (you use the total of skill+specialty) for that specialty use only.

So I'm trying to figure out what sort of specialties should exist, realistically (or at an acceptable degree of abstraciton), for Marksmanship. I've started off simply with CP2020's Handgun, Rifle, SMG. (Twilight 2013, my go-to example of great and realistic combat, just has the skills Longarm, Sidearm, and Support Weapons for personal weapons.) Should I include Shotgun, or Sniping, or even get more specific like Target-Shooting, Tactical Shooting, CQC? Should Rifle apply to assault rifles the same as hunting or sniper rifles? Should LMGs be under Heavy Weapons or Marksmanship, and should they have their own specialty? Should MMGs be separate from LMGs? And so on.

My army buddies were generally of the opinion that the Marksmanship + specialty thing makes sense, but only one of them even has training with handguns, and none of them are gun bunnies or experts with firearms.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-14, 04:42 AM
Question: How much of the skills needed to shoot accurately are shared between different weapons? How different are special situations like sniping from regular use?

This is one of those things that can be debated forever, especially if we are trying to make sense of it in a gaming ruleset perspective.

IRL, as a layman, I must say I think it has to do with the type of weapon. A short sword and a broadsword is closer to eachother than a hunting rifle and a handgun, I would assume; same basic grip, one-handed, same basic attack patterns. One is heavier and longer, but you should have a base skill with it.

I don't know enough to do a real life analysis, really, but if I was to do a game rule analysis:

First of all we need to divide up groups. This is arbitary to a huge degree and can (and has, in different rule systems) be divided in as small or large groups as you can possible want: Everything from "All one-handed weapons" to "individual swords".

Let's propose something like this:

Firearms:

Primary group: When you specialize in a weapon in a primary group, you automatically get 50% of your skill in any other weapon of that group but gains skill quicker than with unrelated weapons.

Secondary group: If you use a weapon "one group over" you automatically get 33% of your skill in weapons from that group.

Other firearms: If you use a weapon this far from your specialized skill you get 10% of your skill by default.

For example:
Primary Group - Rifles - 100% of your skill. You specialize in sniper rifles. You then grab another kind of rifle - 50% of your skill but can fairly quickly be trained up to 100% of your specialized skill.
Seconday Group - Automatic Rifles - 33% of your skill. No bonus in gaining new skillpoints.
Other Firearms: You, without training, start using a revolver. Automatic 10% of your original skill, no bonus in gaing skillpoints.

AgentPaper
2013-05-14, 04:43 AM
No, Newton's law does not mean "identical" reaction, to begin with, it means "equivalent" reaction. So if you, somehow, is powerful enough to punch someone through a brick wall, not only are you already in a forward momentum that the counter force has to stop, but you are also braced for impact automatically, at least partially.

For a "normal" punch, certainly. But if you're punching someone that hard, then you're getting the force from somewhere, and unless you also have super-sticky feet (which seems like an odd power, unless you're spiderman), then that force needs to come from your own mass. You'd go less of a distance compared to your opponent relative to how much friction you're able to get between you and the ground, minus the friction your opponent manages to get between them and the ground. If you're bolted to the floor and they're standing on ice, then sure, they'll go flying and you won't budge.

At the very least, if you punch them hard enough to go through a wall, and keep your footing, then the ground beneath you is going to take the whole of that punch's counter force, and if you're swinging hard enough to send people through brick walls, then you're probably also producing enough force to mess up the ground pretty bad...if you're not standing on concrete, you'll probably just demolish it and go flying backwards anyways.

TL;DR: Super-human strength brings up a whole slew of problems, more the higher it gets. There's so much more involved than simply increasing muscle and bone strength that it's not really worth bothering with trying to make it realistic. Just have it work according to rule of plot, rule of cool, and rule of funny, and you (and anyone else in the room) will be much happier.

Spiryt
2013-05-14, 04:51 AM
I'm confident a fist would penetrate a human if it imparted sufficient momentum to drive that person through a brick wall. There's a huge difference between forcibly knocking someone back and accelerating them to the point where they smash through rigid architecture.


If there was enough energy behind it, without some fundamental changes to human physique, this energy would probably destroy hand/wrist pretty badly, before any penetration would occur.


I've read some interesting research that suggests that early hominids got a bit of an advantage in the hand arrangement department (ie. our thumbs) when it came to fighting other hominids. It basically gave our evolutionary ancestors a built in weapon to fight each other with, and those that could form tighter fists had better natural weapons.


I seriously doubt hominids punched each other, though...

Even without weapons.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-14, 04:52 AM
For a "normal" punch, certainly. But if you're punching someone that hard, then you're getting the force from somewhere, and unless you also have super-sticky feet (which seems like an odd power, unless you're spiderman), then that force needs to come from your own mass. You'd go less of a distance compared to your opponent relative to how much friction you're able to get between you and the ground, minus the friction your opponent manages to get between them and the ground. If you're bolted to the floor and they're standing on ice, then sure, they'll go flying and you won't budge.

At the very least, if you punch them hard enough to go through a wall, and keep your footing, then the ground beneath you is going to take the whole of that punch's counter force, and if you're swinging hard enough to send people through brick walls, then you're probably also producing enough force to mess up the ground pretty bad...if you're not standing on concrete, you'll probably just demolish it and go flying backwards anyways.

TL;DR: Super-human strength brings up a whole slew of problems, more the higher it gets. There's so much more involved than simply increasing muscle and bone strength that it's not really worth bothering with trying to make it realistic. Just have it work according to rule of plot, rule of cool, and rule of funny, and you (and anyone else in the room) will be much happier.

The way you usually position yourself when throwing a heavy punch, you lean foward quite a bit as you "punch through", following your fist forward.
This usually means that yes the force will be transfered to the floor; your legs are in an angle and will direct the foce downwards. But first the force has to go through your fist, your arm, your shoulder, your waist... all that contains joints and ligaments that will absorb part of the force. Basically if you punch someone through a wall you will most likely end up with a broken bone or more in your fist, a a sore shoulder, tense muscles in your back and no, not any cracked floorboards.

Now if you add superhumans... Yes, if a super strong person does it there might be cracks in the floor when he walks away. Of course superhuman physics only apply when the writers want to, as we all know.


If there was enough energy behind it, without some fundamental changes to human physique, this energy would probably destroy hand/wrist pretty badly, before any penetration would occur.
---
I seriously doubt hominids punched each other, though...

Even without weapons.

Exactly my point.

As for your second point. We don't know. All we know for certain is that humans instictively clench our fists when we are aggressive. And that chimpanzees use weapons to beat eachother with as well as bite and tear. They can however not form proper fists with their hands, their palms are too long and their thumbs are too short.

GnomeFighter
2013-05-14, 05:08 AM
Question: How much of the skills needed to shoot accurately are shared between different weapons? How different are special situations like sniping from regular use?


Situation is more important than type. I know I can pick up most guns and bows and set them up and shot at a target with some degree of accuracy with little more than a few moments familiarisation with the sighting system and a few shots to get my eye in to the characteristics of that weapon. Once you have the basic understanding of how to fire a weapon, relaxing, breath slowly, don't force it, those skills are very transferable. Guns are easy to get somewhere near the target if you have some basic training. Bows, less so due to the phyical input, but once you have the muscles and skills you can transfer those.

It is the last few % that comes in to play with further training and setting up etc.

As for "special situations" I would not call sniping "special" in shooting terms. Many hunters and sports shooters have skills on par with snipers. Snipers do have other skills, and often combine the acuracy of good target shooters with the outdoors skills of a good hunter and throw in allot of the skills of a good soldier too. A good target shooter should be able to match the acuracy of a military sniper but would not be able to identify a good place to set up.

In terms of acuracy on combat situations (both forces and police) the skills are transferable, it is still a case of point the open end at the target. The diffrence comes with being able to USE those skills under pressure. Target shooters, hunters and, for that matter, snipers have a very diffrent set of stressors than someone in a fire fight. This however is not related to the weapon you are using. If you panic with a pistol you will panic with a shotgun and use both of them just as badly.

Rhynn
2013-05-14, 05:15 AM
As for "special situations" I would not call sniping "special" in shooting terms. Many hunters and sports shooters have skills on par with snipers. Snipers do have other skills, and often combine the acuracy of good target shooters with the outdoors skills of a good hunter and throw in allot of the skills of a good soldier too. A good target shooter should be able to match the acuracy of a military sniper but would not be able to identify a good place to set up.

You think? Sniping seemed like the exception situation to me. (When I say "sniping," I don't mean just using a scope, I mean making a shot at ranges like 1,000-2,000 yards or more.) I don't think most shooters are going to be consciously and scientifically adjusting for wind direction and strength, etc., are they?

I've never fired a real gun, though, much less been trained in it.

Hjolnai
2013-05-14, 05:47 AM
I've been wondering: How much would full plate armour protect against the kinds of magical attacks we see in fantasy (particularly RPG systems)?
Other armour systems may also be interesting to consider.

My thoughts:
Fire: Should be good protection - the conductive steel spreads the heat out over a wider area, while the padding beneath spreads it over time. Also, a layer of sweat should be helpful. Just hope that the fire doesn't reach your face or your eyes and lungs will be in trouble. Also, watch out for the cloth padding catching fire, though there won't be much air for it.
Heat exhaustion may be an issue.

Frost: Similar to fire, but reduces the problems of overheating rather than increasing them.

Lightning: You're wearing a Faraday cage, so it should be much less dangerous than normal. Incomplete sets of armour (eg without greaves) may prevent grounding, which makes it more dangerous.

Acid: Most of it will get stuck on the plates. Should stop personal damage, but the steel will be compromised. Again, hope to avoid face hits, because of the breathing holes and eye slot.

Mr Beer
2013-05-14, 06:13 AM
If there was enough energy behind it, without some fundamental changes to human physique, this energy would probably destroy hand/wrist pretty badly, before any penetration would occur.

Yes, of course. Superhuman acts of strength require ancillary superpowers.

"Simply" hoisting a car over your head needs skeletal and connective tissue reinforcement as an obvious starting point and then you have things like whether you can maintain your stance with a couple of tons of metal whooshing around in your arms.

Punching with enough momentum to penetrate say 10 inches of human without first reinforcing the striking arm would end up as a horrible mess for everyone involved.

Spiryt
2013-05-14, 06:56 AM
Lightning: You're wearing a Faraday cage, so it should be much less dangerous than normal. Incomplete sets of armour (eg without greaves) may prevent grounding, which makes it more dangerous.


I'm rather clueless as far as electricity goes, but even most 'hermetic' suits of plates probably would have problems with being grounded, or forming very complete cage...

Some most elaborate armors could probably have tight plates/mail down to the soles of feet, but from obvious reasons those would be pretty universally mounted only, so rider wouldn't be grounded from obvious reasons.

Dead_Jester
2013-05-14, 08:15 AM
I'm rather clueless as far as electricity goes, but even most 'hermetic' suits of plates probably would have problems with being grounded, or forming very complete cage...

Some most elaborate armors could probably have tight plates/mail down to the soles of feet, but from obvious reasons those would be pretty universally mounted only, so rider wouldn't be grounded from obvious reasons.

Although one has to assume that in a scenario where your average knight in plate armor considers electricity a serious threat to his continued existence that some form of grounding device (such as strips of chain running from the base of the armor to the ground) would be kept handy even if it is not a permanent part of the armor.

AgentPaper
2013-05-14, 11:27 AM
Some most elaborate armors could probably have tight plates/mail down to the soles of feet, but from obvious reasons those would be pretty universally mounted only, so rider wouldn't be grounded from obvious reasons.

It doesn't actually matter whether there's a direct connection to the ground. The only thing that matters is that the shortest, easiest path for the electricity to move on doesn't include any of the wearer's body parts. If you're in full plate riding a horse, the shortest path means going through your armor, into your horse, and then into the ground. So, you'll be fine, assuming you survive the fall after your horse dies. (Unless it's similarly armored, or you have one of those grounding chains, in which case you're both fine)

Brother Oni
2013-05-14, 11:40 AM
My thoughts:
Fire: Should be good protection - the conductive steel spreads the heat out over a wider area, while the padding beneath spreads it over time. Also, a layer of sweat should be helpful. Just hope that the fire doesn't reach your face or your eyes and lungs will be in trouble. Also, watch out for the cloth padding catching fire, though there won't be much air for it.
Heat exhaustion may be an issue.


Very much depends on the fire attack. A sufficiently hot and condensed bolt of fire would just melt through the steel (and by extension the wearer). Likewise, a lower but more extended exposure to fire would just set the person on fire like a flamethrower.

As for the padding igniting, some of it is still exposed to the atmosphere, where there's plenty of air for it to burn in.



Frost: Similar to fire, but reduces the problems of overheating rather than increasing them.

Similar issues as to the fire attack - extreme condensed cold would supercool the steel, making it incredibly brittle, while longer lower intensity exposure would cause frost burns to skin in contact to metal, not to mention the possibly of hypothermia.



Lightning: You're wearing a Faraday cage, so it should be much less dangerous than normal. Incomplete sets of armour (eg without greaves) may prevent grounding, which makes it more dangerous.


On top of the other suggestions, you'd have to assume that your skin isn't in contact with the metal or the padding isn't sufficiently damp enough with your sweat to conduct.
That said, you don't need much current to pass through your upper torso to sufficiently disrupt your heartbeat.



Acid: Most of it will get stuck on the plates. Should stop personal damage, but the steel will be compromised. Again, hope to avoid face hits, because of the breathing holes and eye slot.

Ah, something I'm on a bit firmer ground with. :smallbiggrin:

Depends on the acid although any acid worthy of the name will have a major affect if it hits the face and gets into the soft tissues. Regardless of type, a long duration spray would probably incapacitate the target at the very least, if not kill.

Concentrating on small 'bursts' of acid, lets take something nice and simple like concentrated hydrochloric acid.
Against steel plate, it won't do a thing - iron (let alone treated steel) simply isn't reactive enough for short term exposure to HCl to do anything; it's more likely to drip off before it starts corroding the plate.
Even soaking into aketon/gambeson isn't going to degrade the padding quickly and it'll take a few minutes for it to start burning skin.
The acid fumes however will have a similar effect to tear gas on the wearer though and will probably be very debilitating.

Something significantly nastier like hydrofluoric acid... there's not going to much left of the target (or the thrower if they're not careful).

Suppose we had a theoretical acid like the xenomorph's blood from the Alien franchise; it's going to eat through the armour quickly, with the fumes being significantly disabling.
However when Cpl Hicks was hit with the acid, his armour was designed to breakaway quickly, thus it limited the damage the blood did.
There won't be such an option with plate, which requires somebody else to help armour the wearer (normally a squire's job for a knight), so the acid will inflict more injury or even kill the target unless someone's there to get the affected pieces off.

Edit: Sorry, forgot to say that if you offered a bit more detail regarding the cold/fire attacks (a particular RPG system for example) then we can start giving more useful suggestions.

Beleriphon
2013-05-14, 08:02 PM
Very much depends on the fire attack. A sufficiently hot and condensed bolt of fire would just melt through the steel (and by extension the wearer). Likewise, a lower but more extended exposure to fire would just set the person on fire like a flamethrower.

As for the padding igniting, some of it is still exposed to the atmosphere, where there's plenty of air for it to burn in.


I'd imagine that most fire bolts from fantasy games have more in common with HEAT rockets rather than a stove's burner.

Raum
2013-05-14, 08:02 PM
Question: How much of the skills needed to shoot accurately are shared between different weapons? How different are special situations like sniping from regular use?Speaking purely about firearms, a lot of things are common no matter the weapon. Sight picture, breath control, trigger pull, relaxed tension, etc. Even the basic stances and methods of holding a weapon are the same within a given type (pistol vs rifle) and similar across the two. An experience shooter can easily pick up a weapon he's never used before and be at 90% of his skill level with half an hour's practice. That last ten percent will often take longer - it's about extremely fine differences in shooting mechanics.

One item that differs significantly is distance shooting vs short range. A sniper is going to have to learn to read wind changes and adjust for significant drop. There's a big difference between shooting a rifle at 200 meters vs a kilometer plus. Even minor things like humidity start to be a factor.

TuggyNE
2013-05-14, 08:14 PM
I'd imagine that most fire bolts from fantasy games have more in common with HEAT rockets rather than a stove's burner.

Really? HEAT works by forcing a very high-speed jet of solid metal through other solid metal by means of sheer kinetic momentum; any heat formed is purely incidental and irrelevant to the penetration (though it's certainly handy once you get through).

In 3.5 terms, HEAT is piercing damage that ignores hardness up to a certain amount, with auxiliary sonic, fire, and maybe slashing components. :smallwink:

Beleriphon
2013-05-14, 10:24 PM
Really? HEAT works by forcing a very high-speed jet of solid metal through other solid metal by means of sheer kinetic momentum; any heat formed is purely incidental and irrelevant to the penetration (though it's certainly handy once you get through).

In 3.5 terms, HEAT is piercing damage that ignores hardness up to a certain amount, with auxiliary sonic, fire, and maybe slashing components. :smallwink:

I'm aware of how a HEAT round works, thus the comparison. In 3.5 I'm sure you could classify a HEAT round like that, but a relatively realistic take on fantasy could certainly treat bolts of fire (seriously its a blast of fire that hurtles through the air and impacts a target). That sounds like the way a HEAT round works, at least at a basic level.

Rhynn
2013-05-14, 10:39 PM
Speaking purely about firearms, a lot of things are common no matter the weapon. Sight picture, breath control, trigger pull, relaxed tension, etc. Even the basic stances and methods of holding a weapon are the same within a given type (pistol vs rifle) and similar across the two. An experience shooter can easily pick up a weapon he's never used before and be at 90% of his skill level with half an hour's practice. That last ten percent will often take longer - it's about extremely fine differences in shooting mechanics.

One item that differs significantly is distance shooting vs short range. A sniper is going to have to learn to read wind changes and adjust for significant drop. There's a big difference between shooting a rifle at 200 meters vs a kilometer plus. Even minor things like humidity start to be a factor.

Thank you!

This pretty much lines up with what I was thinking.

warty goblin
2013-05-14, 11:59 PM
I'm aware of how a HEAT round works, thus the comparison. In 3.5 I'm sure you could classify a HEAT round like that, but a relatively realistic take on fantasy could certainly treat bolts of fire (seriously its a blast of fire that hurtles through the air and impacts a target). That sounds like the way a HEAT round works, at least at a basic level.

I find this a very odd argument. I mean when somebody says 'blast of fire that hurtles through the air' my first thought is not that this is going to behave anything like a jet of liquid copper traveling ten plus times the speed of sound. My mind tends towards it being, well, fire. Dragon breath, burning pitch sort of deal; very hot and liable to ignite stuff but not something that carves through plate steel like a knife through butter.


...and having been burned by various bits of open flame and hot metal in my food service career, fire is scary and painful enough. Nothing like getting halfway to the counter before realizing that the rag you're using to hold onto the pot of boiling water is on fire.

TuggyNE
2013-05-15, 12:05 AM
I'm aware of how a HEAT round works, thus the comparison. In 3.5 I'm sure you could classify a HEAT round like that, but a relatively realistic take on fantasy could certainly treat bolts of fire (seriously its a blast of fire that hurtles through the air and impacts a target). That sounds like the way a HEAT round works, at least at a basic level.

OK, I wasn't sure, because it sounded very unintuitive (still does), and because I used to have a misconception about how they worked that sounded similar. The velocities/pressures you need for that to be relevant are extremely high, and it's not actually fire at all, it's more like a super-fast bullet.

Normally, I figure "fire" damage is more like wood combustion at the low end, and thermite at the higher end. (Maybe some side effects of nuclear blasts, if you want to get fancy.) Calling it "fire" damage when you actually mean "hyper velocity penetrator" is just weird. (This is especially true because you don't actually need explosives as such to get a similar effect, just very high speeds.)

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 02:20 AM
I'd imagine that most fire bolts from fantasy games have more in common with HEAT rockets rather than a stove's burner.

I was thinking more like a plasma weapon (Babylon 5, Terminator franchise, W40K, etc) on the upper end of the power spectrum, but any sort of pulsed directed energy weapon would probably be equivalent.


My mind tends towards it being, well, fire. Dragon breath, burning pitch sort of deal; very hot and liable to ignite stuff but not something that carves through plate steel like a knife through butter.

Dragon breath would be closer to a civilian flamethrower in my opinion (sustained burning stream of gas), while pitch 'cheats' by smearing a burning subtance over the target, much like napalm.

In the absence of any clarification, let's start some open speculation:

In my opinion, a fire bolt spelt calls up an amount of burning gas which is then directed at the enemy. Depending on the temperature of the burning gas (presumably the more powerful the spell, the hotter), it can melt through plate steel (~1370C).

Let's start with how much burning gas we need to hurt somebody:

Civilian flamethrowers use propane or methane (natural gas), which have a flame temperature in air of 1980C and 1950C respectively, so that would probably be a good starting point for a basic spell.

Since you can pass your hand through an open flame briefly with no damage, I'd think the duration and contact area would also be important. This would probably give an idea of the minimum volume of a basic bolt.

Working on this and trying to keeping it simple, let's make the area of contact the chest/breastplate, or ~0.07m2.

Level of injury is the next step - assuming immediate incapacitation, we'd have to heat the bare skin to 72C and according to this site (link (http://www.nist.gov/fire/fire_behavior.cfm)), achieve a heat transfer rate of greater than 3kW/m2, which would give our duration of contact, target end point and a base point of volume (gas containing 0.21kW of thermal energy).

Next we need to find the thermal conductivity value of human tissue... here it is (http://users.ece.utexas.edu/~valvano/research/Thermal.pdf).

Dammit, I've run out of time at the moment to crunch this. I'll carry on later unless someone wants to take over.

Rhynn
2013-05-15, 02:46 AM
I find this a very odd argument. I mean when somebody says 'blast of fire that hurtles through the air' my first thought is not that this is going to behave anything like a jet of liquid copper traveling ten plus times the speed of sound. My mind tends towards it being, well, fire. Dragon breath, burning pitch sort of deal; very hot and liable to ignite stuff but not something that carves through plate steel like a knife through butter.

Same. My first thought is a short blast from a flame thrower (like so (http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_6PdsPkQFSI0/S_0-JZ5rYyI/AAAAAAAABSk/XWtepFM6GB0/s1600/flamethrower_straight.jpg)). Especially when it's pretty rare for a bolt of fire in a RPG to actually go through someone.

HEAT warheads are based on pressure, not heat. It's just an acronym. (Sure, they get very hot, but not usefully so.) I don't see how bolts of fire would have anything to do with them.


I'm aware of how a HEAT round works, thus the comparison. In 3.5 I'm sure you could classify a HEAT round like that, but a relatively realistic take on fantasy could certainly treat bolts of fire (seriously its a blast of fire that hurtles through the air and impacts a target). That sounds like the way a HEAT round works, at least at a basic level.

"Blast of fire hurtling through the air."
"Shaped charge explosive propels superplastic metal forward on impact."

I don't think those sound very much alike, myself. The first sounds like a flamethrower (granted, that's a blast of burning liquid/gas; though bolts of fire could certainly be the same), the second is a HEAT warhead.

A HEAT warhead's basic principle is shaping an explosion on impact to propel material through a target using pressure. (They do not melt through armor, not being nearly hot enough to melt metal*.)

* Edit: Okay, they're nearly hot enough to melt aluminium, and hot enough to melt bismuth and some aluminium alloys, but not, say, silver, gold, iron, or copper (what the penetrator is actually made of). I don't know what the melting point of chobham is, but given it's ceramic encased in metal, it's probably pretty high. The copper penetrator isn't melted, it's pressurized and deformed far beyond it's breaking point.

GnomeFighter
2013-05-15, 04:30 AM
You think? Sniping seemed like the exception situation to me. (When I say "sniping," I don't mean just using a scope, I mean making a shot at ranges like 1,000-2,000 yards or more.) I don't think most shooters are going to be consciously and scientifically adjusting for wind direction and strength, etc., are they?

I've never fired a real gun, though, much less been trained in it.

Fullbore target shooting goes up to a range of 1000 yards for competition, using 'iron' aperture sights (No scopes) for "target rifle" class, or 1200 with scopes for "match rifle" class. They are most definitely adjusting for wind and environmental conditions.

In the case of deer stalking they are sometimes shooting at over 500 yards, although 200 yards is more normal, and they do not have the luxury of setting up in the same way a sniper or target shooter dose.

Snipers are not normaly shooting at the range of Fullbore target shooters. The maximum effective range of the 7.62×51mm (Nato Standard Cartridge) is only about 900 yards. Fullbore shooting uses this, but is only having to punch through paper. For the .338 Lapua Magnum, the max effective range is 1400 yards, about the same as target shooters. These are the two "normal" cartridges used by millitery snipers. Even the 14.5×114mm anti material cartrage only has a max range of about 2300 yards, and this would normaly be shooting at vehicles rather than people. Snipers will normaly be shooting under the effective range, however they do not always have the luxury of having an idea of what the ranges should be before shooting, but have a larger area to hit. Swings and roundabouts.

Millitery snipers are generally good, as you would expect from someone whos job it is to shoot, but not superhuman. The accuracy of a top rifle shooter will much higer than an average military sniper. They have a whole gamet of other skills that let them do there job, just like anyone. That is not to say that top snipers are not up there with top target shooters, just that in genaral target shooters will be on par with snipers.

For more useless infomation take a look at this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longest_recorded_sniper_kills

As you see there are very few confirmed kills by snipers over 1500 yards.

A strange myth, like the ninja myth, seems to have grown up round snipers, that they are some sort of superhuman with the ability to shoot the pips out of an apple at 3 miles. They are only human and many probably practace less than alot of target shooters.

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 08:24 AM
Okay, let’s make our target medium rare and assume a penetration of 0.5cm. The average density of the human body is 1.062g/cm3, so we have about (706.9*0.5)/1.062 = 332.8g of flesh to cook.

The average specific heat capacity of the human body is 3470 J/kg/C and using an external body temp of 37C (he’s been exercising) and in order to char our target nicely I reckon we need (3470J*35C*0.3328) = 40.4kJ.

Assuming our firebolt works by convection, the forced heat transfer coefficient of natural gas is about 10 W/mK, so a one second contact of propane that would encompass the whole chest would transfer (1943K*0.07m2*10 W/m2K) = 1360J, nowhere near enough to cook our target.

In order to deliver the required amount of energy in that time, our firebolt would need to have a temperature differential of 57,714K, which is a mite bit toasty.


Now for the plate armour:

Assume an identical area of iron breastplate and let’s make it fairly thick at 2mm for a total volume of 141.4cm3 and hence 1113.2g of metal (it’s close enough to steel, density wise).

The heat capacity of iron is about 0.45 J/g/K, so applying 40.4kJ to the breastplate would increase the temperature by ~81C, more than enough to cause painful burns to unprotected skin, plus repeated spells would literally cook the target as the heat wouldn’t have time to dissipate.
The plate would protect the wearer for a couple of hits though.

Note that this is all fairly back of envelope stuff and makes quite a few assumptions (the target not catching fire, uniform distribution of heat, etc), not to mention the inevitable mistakes somewhere.

Edit: formatting.

Hjolnai
2013-05-15, 09:00 AM
Okay, let’s make our target medium rare and assume a penetration of 0.5cm. The average density of the human body is 1.062g/cm3, so we have about (706.9*0.5)/1.062 = 332.8g of flesh to cook.

(...Quote cut for length)


Interesting. That's quite a temperature raise in the metal compared to what it does to flesh (unsurprisingly), but the thick padding beneath combined with heat capacity of sweat is probably going to help. Also, the padding won't conduct heat anywhere near as quickly as the metal - so it will spread over a much wider area before it sinks through the cloth.

Taking this much superheated gas to the front is probably going to mean some gets through the helmet though. Any significant amount of the gas in the eyes is going to be really bad news. Still better than the victim would have fared without armour though.


I should have been more specific in my question. Certainly it's interesting to think about different systems of magic and of armour, but answering the question with detail is always easier when the question itself is detailed.

I was thinking mostly about D&D, and I guess most computer game systems, where various sources of magical damage cause serious injury but are not guaranteed to be lethal. In those situations I would expect good armour to provide serious protection against many such threats. In systems where magic tends to be overkill (or would be if not for superhuman toughness, which I guess applies for high-level D&D too), armour can't be expected to do as much. An analogy for the difference is in gunpowder weapons - armour might stop a contemporary bullet, but it won't save you from a cannonball.

I was also thinking about Gothic-style plate (for complete specificity), but other types of armour could be equally interesting to investigate.

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 10:03 AM
Interesting. That's quite a temperature raise in the metal compared to what it does to flesh (unsurprisingly), but the thick padding beneath combined with heat capacity of sweat is probably going to help. Also, the padding won't conduct heat anywhere near as quickly as the metal - so it will spread over a much wider area before it sinks through the cloth.

You're still talking about 100+ C metal only a couple of clothing layers from the skin. The padding isn't going to help that much.

The temperature rise isn't that much though - 35C (to get from 37 to 72) compared to 81 (25C to 106C).

What would be interesting would be to vary the contact area (currently 40.4kJ of propane would occupy ~3.6L so it's a fairly hefty ball of fire) as that would lower the energy requirement for harm and hence the plate may afford more protection (thermal conductivity of the armour would play a more important part).



I was thinking mostly about D&D, and I guess most computer game systems, where various sources of magical damage cause serious injury but are not guaranteed to be lethal. In those situations I would expect good armour to provide serious protection against many such threats. In systems where magic tends to be overkill (or would be if not for superhuman toughness, which I guess applies for high-level D&D too), armour can't be expected to do as much.

While damage to human tissue with cold isn't going to have too different an energy requirement to heat (going from 37C to 0C in comparison to up to 72C), the amount of protection afford by steel is going to be significantly less: while iron melts at 1538C, it goes brittle at only about -29C.

Comparison to D&D is going to be tricky - I believe spending a round (10 seconds) in a medium campfire only inflicts 1d6 damage or 2d6 if it's been burning for a couple hours.

1kg of moderately dry wood generates 4kW for an hour and I'd say a decent sized camp fire is about 5kg of wood.
This would give an energy output of 20kW or 200kJ to the idiot standing in the fire, which equates to 2d6 damage.



I was also thinking about Gothic-style plate (for complete specificity), but other types of armour could be equally interesting to investigate.

I assumed 2mm armour earlier, which is fairly comparable to gothic plate. Other armour materials can be worked out by looking at their respective specific heat capacity - for a solid piece of armour, just assume it's uniform (if you ask me to do mail, I will hurt you).

warty goblin
2013-05-15, 11:10 AM
You're still talking about 100+ C metal only a couple of clothing layers from the skin. The padding isn't going to help that much.

I've pulled metal pans out of 500 degree ovens using potholders, without any significant harm, or even discomfort. If anything I'd expect any halfway decent aketon to be thicker than your average cheap-ass food service oven mitt.


Comparison to D&D is going to be tricky - I believe spending a round (10 seconds) in a medium campfire only inflicts 1d6 damage or 2d6 if it's been burning for a couple hours.

1kg of moderately dry wood generates 4kW for an hour and I'd say a decent sized camp fire is about 5kg of wood.
This would give an energy output of 20kW or 200kJ to the idiot standing in the fire, which equates to 2d6 damage.
11 pounds of wood is a fairly substantial sort of conflagration. Standing in it for any length of time would in reality result in very severe, at least temporarily crippling, burns. Even a second degree burn (blisters, but skin not actually burned off) is extremely painful. I once ended up with about three square inches of second degree burn around my left knee; it hurt so much walking was the better part of impossible for about five days. Even standing up getting out of bed in the morning was very uncomfortable.

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 12:59 PM
I've pulled metal pans out of 500 degree ovens using potholders, without any significant harm, or even discomfort. If anything I'd expect any halfway decent aketon to be thicker than your average cheap-ass food service oven mitt.


I assume that's Fahrenheit?

Area of contact is a major component of being able to handle heat: holding a 50C object, no problem; being in 50C weather, much more troublesome.

From my own food service experience, any decent cook or server adapts to be able to hold rather ludicrously hot material with their hands, but you'd better be careful if an unadjusted part of your anatomy comes in contact with the same hot object.

warty goblin
2013-05-15, 01:25 PM
I assume that's Fahrenheit?

Fahrenheit indeed. Cooking prime rib at 500 celsius isn't really recommended.


Area of contact is a major component of being able to handle heat: holding a 50C object, no problem; being in 50C weather, much more troublesome.
Back in my food service days, I spent plenty of time in a kitchen that hot - the air conditioning didn't work for crap and the fans weren't up to snuff either. After about two hours the effect is rather like being drunk. We used to go soak our arms under cold water whenever possible, and drink absolute gallons of ice water. That helped, except when somebody poured black pepper into your drink.


From my own food service experience, any decent cook or server adapts to be able to hold rather ludicrously hot material with their hands, but you'd better be careful if an unadjusted part of your anatomy comes in contact with the same hot object.
Indeed. Unfortunately I've mostly lost that. I used to be able to pick things up right off the flat-top with my bare hands, which was quite useful.

One trick I figured out was that I could stop a minor burn hurting all evening, simply by holding the recently singed appendage over the grill or flat-top for about thirty seconds. Lots of pain at the moment, but not hardly a twinge for the rest of the shift. Didn't really work for anything that had raised a blister though.

Mike_G
2013-05-15, 02:58 PM
I assume that's Fahrenheit?

Area of contact is a major component of being able to handle heat: holding a 50C object, no problem; being in 50C weather, much more troublesome.

From my own food service experience, any decent cook or server adapts to be able to hold rather ludicrously hot material with their hands, but you'd better be careful if an unadjusted part of your anatomy comes in contact with the same hot object.

500 F is only about 220 C.

100 C isn't that hot, compared to food prep. Potholders protect from far higher temps than that. And a decent gambeson would be much better protection than a potholder.

Modern Firefighting equipment does a decent job, and isn't much heavier. The original Fire helmets (that most departments in New England still use- Centuries of tradition unimpeded by progress) are LEATHER.

Insulation from hot steel isn't exactly rocket science. Thick, padded cloth does a decent job, up until it ignites.

Now, breathing the hot gas from the dragon's breathe will probably kill you long before the fat renders out of your skin. That's the real danger of fantasy fire attacks. Not a toasty breastplate.

Rhynn
2013-05-15, 03:00 PM
500 F is only about 220 C.

500şF is exactly 260şC. (500-32)/9*5 = 260.

Not that it affects what you're saying at all, but MATH.

:smallredface:

Mike_G
2013-05-15, 03:32 PM
500şF is exactly 260şC. (500-32)/9*5 = 260.

Not that it affects what you're saying at all, but MATH.

:smallredface:

Paramedic.

Back of the envelope Imperial to metric guesstimates at 3 AM and 55 mph.

I use "Subtract 30 and cut the number in half."

Except this time, when I reversed the order.

You're right, by the way.

Brother Oni
2013-05-15, 06:41 PM
Modern Firefighting equipment does a decent job, and isn't much heavier. The original Fire helmets (that most departments in New England still use- Centuries of tradition unimpeded by progress) are LEATHER.

Except that leather caps aren't much use in combat, which the original scenario was about. :smalltongue:



Now, breathing the hot gas from the dragon's breathe will probably kill you long before the fat renders out of your skin. That's the real danger of fantasy fire attacks. Not a toasty breastplate.

Well dragon breath attacks are far more like a flamethrower, which kinda breaks the thermal energy transfer numbers I crunched which are intended for a split second duration spell.
You're also far more likely to die before you get to the 40.4kJ energy required to achieve a fourth degree burns to ~18% of the body (first degree burns to the same area only needs about 3.6kJ if my math is right).

As for protection, helms give a surprising amount assuming you can keep the gaps out of the direct stream - I remember one full contact re-enactor saying that the only safety requirement was that a 1/2" steel rod can't get into any of the eye/air slits.

As an aside, fat melts at about 184C, so you're likely to be dead well before then. :smallbiggrin:


Paramedic.

Back of the envelope Imperial to metric guesstimates at 3 AM and 55 mph.


What are you doing as a paramedic all the way over there, if you don't mind my asking?

Mike_G
2013-05-15, 10:53 PM
Any area effect fire damage, like Fireball or dragon breath will be fatal mostly by scorching your airway when you try to breathe the superheated air. The best plate won't help you unless you have an SCBA. Been on ambulance standby at fires. More injuries from airway burns than direct contact burns.

And plate has gaps. exposed hair or cloth may catch fire, eyes will take damage, and so on.

But for something like Scorching Ray, which might hit you in the breastplate, I think the steel would heat up, but would spread that energy over its surface, and a gambeson would be adequate insulation, and unlikely to catch fire from contact with a hot breastplate, since there won't be much oxygen, and it'll probably be damp from sweat. A man wearing just a padded gambeson hit directly by a ray might very well be on fire.

So I think plate plus padding would be decent protection from small area, short duration fire attacks that might very well kill an unarmored man.

Assuming the average fantasy hero can't get ahold of Nomex and an SCBA.

And all the way over where? I work in Boston's northern suburbs.

AgentPaper
2013-05-15, 10:58 PM
Any area effect fire damage, like Fireball or dragon breath will be fatal mostly by scorching your airway when you try to breathe the superheated air. The best plate won't help you unless you have an SCBA. Been on ambulance standby at fires. More injuries from airway burns than direct contact burns.

Airway damage might be the most fatal in a house fire, where you're next to an open flame for a long time, but if you're just being scorched by a fireball that lasts, at absolute maximum 6 seconds, you can (and probably will by instinct) simply hold your breath for 6 seconds, then breath again once it's over. So, any damage from a fireball will come from external burns, not from breathing in.

DodgerH2O
2013-05-15, 11:45 PM
Airway damage might be the most fatal in a house fire, where you're next to an open flame for a long time, but if you're just being scorched by a fireball that lasts, at absolute maximum 6 seconds, you can (and probably will by instinct) simply hold your breath for 6 seconds, then breath again once it's over. So, any damage from a fireball will come from external burns, not from breathing in.

Assuming that you don't scream from the external burns. Before you scream, you'll reflexively inhale sharply and deeply. Think about it. Sure if you've been fireballed before you might know to hold your breath, but I imagine most would panic having a large blast of flame in their face...

I figure that'd factor in under "Saving Throw" rules in DnD worlds *shrug* Abstraction is a great thing.

Brother Oni
2013-05-16, 06:52 AM
And plate has gaps. exposed hair or cloth may catch fire, eyes will take damage, and so on.

Oh I fully agree - that's one of the assumptions I was making since trying to work out how much of a typical knight in plate was actually flammable sounds like too much modelling for me.



Assuming the average fantasy hero can't get ahold of Nomex and an SCBA.


Or a ring/spell of fire resistance/immunity.

That said I believe that using treated hides or leather was popular for fire proofing things in siege situations.



And all the way over where? I work in Boston's northern suburbs.

Sorry, I took your 3am and 55mph comment literally and had you pegged at GMT+7, putting you somewhere around Thailand.


Assuming that you don't scream from the external burns. Before you scream, you'll reflexively inhale sharply and deeply. Think about it. Sure if you've been fireballed before you might know to hold your breath, but I imagine most would panic having a large blast of flame in their face...

I figure that'd factor in under "Saving Throw" rules in DnD worlds *shrug* Abstraction is a great thing.

I would expect anybody living in a magical environment would well be aware of particular signature spells, let alone an experienced fighting man who's probably been on the receiving end a couple times already.

In D&D terms, I think overcoming your natural reflex would probably a Will save, but I believe fireball and other such spells are Reflex saves to represent you getting the hell out of the blast zone.

Mike_G
2013-05-16, 11:42 AM
Airway damage might be the most fatal in a house fire, where you're next to an open flame for a long time, but if you're just being scorched by a fireball that lasts, at absolute maximum 6 seconds, you can (and probably will by instinct) simply hold your breath for 6 seconds, then breath again once it's over. So, any damage from a fireball will come from external burns, not from breathing in.

Well, without getting too finicky over details for a spell we can't really imitate for a real test, a fireball, even if it only lasted a second would leave the air in the area superheated. I'm not equipped to figure the rate of heat dissipation for temperatures we'd just be guessing at, but if the fireball is hot enough to ignite clothing, the air immediately status post fireball will be hot enough to blister your airway.

D&D damage is so abstract it's pretty impossible to figure how much heat equals 1D6 damage kind of thing. But there's a very good reason that guys who plan to be close to fire, not even in fire, wear head to toe protection and respirators.

My point was that fire hot enough to burn your flesh through armor and padding will probably bake the inside of your lungs to medium rare. The heat required to transfer that much energy through the layers of padding by conduction through the armor would be waaaaaaaaaaay more than enough to turn the air around that armor into an oven. It needs to be insanely hot for a split second, or very hot for a longer time. Both are pretty bad. Gaps, vents, eye slits, those are the places heat will hurt you.

I think the least of your worries would be a burn through the armor.

hymer
2013-05-16, 01:17 PM
Medieval Europe, before the advent of gunpowder weapons. You and your company are tasked with defending city- and castle walls. You already have bows and crossbows covered. What sort of melee weapon(s) would you benefit most from for repelling assault by ladder, ramp and/or siege towers? What sort of weapons would a seasoned commander issue (besides the aforementioned bow and crossbow)?

Sorry if this has already been covered.

Spiryt
2013-05-16, 01:51 PM
Medieval Europe, before the advent of effective gunpowder weapons. You and your company are tasked with defending city- and castle walls. You already have bows and crossbows covered. What sort of melee weapon(s) would you benefit most from for repelling assault by ladder, ramp and/or siege towers? What sort of weapons would a seasoned commander issue (besides the aforementioned bow and crossbow)?

Sorry if this has already been covered.

That's really broad, question, but basically, in "Medieval Europe" commander wouldn't 'issue' any weapons, he would have some amount of men who:

- would have their own weapons/armors
- would have all kinds of weapons in city's/guilds arsenal, ready to use

Whether this would be own weapon, or 'semi own' :smallbiggrin:, user would be expected to be at least regularly trained with it.

If commander was forced to arm some more random citizens/peasants from the lack of proper defenders, he would probably concentrate on possibly 'auxiliary' tasks. If they would probably anyway got armed with whatever was in arsenals. :smallwink:

Personal weapons in any case would be most probably 'standard' spears, or numerous other polearms, depending on time and place, with knives/daggers, axes, swords, etc.

Don't think there will be any real 'powder' here, just effective melee weapons. People expected to defend some more tight spaces/rooms would probably have more handy weapons, daggers, swords.

All kinds of heavy stuff one can drop at the attackers if frequently mentioned in sources. So it probably would be very important to have prepared.

Stones, spiked logs, etc. This kind of stuff of course sadly isn't very well represented in actual finds, but we have pictures and descriptions.

http://www.medievaltymes.com/courtyard/images/maciejowski/leaf42/otm42rc&d.gif

hymer
2013-05-16, 01:57 PM
Thanks for the response. I'll rephrase: What melee weapon would serve me best considering


Medieval Europe prior to gunpowder,
I'll be fighting to defend fortified walls,
I already have my preferred ranged weapon,
and I expect opponents in metal armour and with training as soldiers.

Spiryt
2013-05-16, 02:44 PM
Hmm, I'm not sure if anyone can really say what would be 'preferred' (maybe some manuals?).

I would say - the very same weapons used to fight in 'normal battles'.

Knights and other riders who would normally fight mounted could be forced to improvise, I guess, but shield + sword/axe/whatever would still obviously go.

All kinds of spears, glaives, axes, bills, clubs, pollaxes...

Brother Oni
2013-05-16, 02:59 PM
I personally would have said some kind of close melee weapon. I don't think there wouldn't be much space for long weapons (polearms, etc) or things required space to swing (maces) with all the other defenders, let alone the attackers once they get up there.

Ranged issues would be sorted by missile troops or the defenders just throwing stuff (rocks, pitch, bodies, etc) off the walls.

AgentPaper
2013-05-16, 03:30 PM
Spears do seem useful for poking at people coming up the wall on ladders and such. Doesn't have to be a long spear either, a short spear is plenty usable in relatively short quarters, and benefits from being easy to use (poke them with the pointy bit) and easy to make. Also great if you happen to be short on iron, or blacksmiths, since you just need the small head, and can even forgoe that and simply sharpen the end and still have a fairly lethal weapon.

If you have the time and resources to give all of your soldiers swords and train them to use them effectively, then sure, give them all swords. But you usually don't have that luxury, so swords and halberds and such are probably going to be limited to whatever small number (compared to the number of people in the city) of professional soldiers you have.

For someone in charge of the defense of the city, you'd basically prioritize it as: Trained warriors use whatever weapons they already own, or if they don't have one at the moment for whatever reason, try to get them a weapon they're already trained with, no matter what it is. Then, for everyone not trained with a weapon, tell them to bring whatever tools they use for their craft that can be used as a weapon, such as axes, pitchforks, bows, or anything else that can be used to kill someone.

Finally, anyone who doesn't have such a tool but is fit and capable of fighting would be given either whatever extra weapons you have available, a hastily-made spear, or if worse comes to worse, a stick that they're told to sharpen as best they can. Anyone not fit to fight, or really just anyone not doing something else right then, would be tasked with carrying heavy stuff up to the top of the walls, digging ditches around the walls, and gathering and storing as much food as possible to last through the inevitable siege.

In the end, it's more a matter of "what can you get" rather than "what do you want". Perhaps in ideal circumstances everyone would have a spiked mace, or a short sword, or a bardiche, or whatever, but you'll never have enough time and resources to prepare that well.

Galloglaich
2013-05-16, 04:14 PM
There is some neat stuff in the Kings Mirror, gives you an idea how nasty it could really be. Molten glass (shudder)

http://web.archive.org/web/20101229192124/http://www.deremilitari.org/resources/sources/kingsmirror.htm

Son: Inasmuch as you may seem to think that you have described most of the weapons which are convenient to have in naval warfare or in fighting on horseback, I will now ask you to say something about those which you think are most effective in besieging or defending a castle.

Father: All weapons that we have just discussed as useful on ships or on horseback can also be used in attacking or defending castles; but there are many other kinds. If one is to attack a castle with the weapons which I have enumerated, he will also have a need trebuchets; a few powerful ones with which to throw large rocks against stone walls to determine whether they are able to resist such violent blows, and weaker trebuchets for throwing missiles over the walls to demolish the houses within the castle. But if one is unable to break down or shatter a stone wall with trebuchets, he will have to try another engine, namely the ironheaded ram, for very few stone walls can withstand its attack. If this engine fails to batter down or shake the wall, it may be advisable to set the cat (15) to work. A tower raised on wheels is useful in besieging castles, if it is constructed so that it rises above the wall which is to be stormed, even though the difference in height be only seven ells; but the higher it is, the more effective it will be in attacking another tower. Scaling ladders on wheels which may be moved backward and forwarded are also useful for this purpose, if they are boarded up underneath and have good ropes on both sides. And we may say briefly about this craft, that in besieging castles use will be found for all sorts of military engines. But whomever wishes to join in this must be sure that he knows precisely even to the very hour when he shall have need for each device.

Those who have to defend a castle may also make use of these weapons which I have now enumerated and many more: trebuchets both large and small, hand slings and staff slings. They will find crossbows and other bows, too, very effective, as well as every other type of shooting weapons, such as spears and javelins both light and heavy. But to resist the trebuchets, the cat, and the engine called the ram, it is well to strengthen the entire stone wall on the inside with large oaken timbers, though if earth and clay are plentiful, these materials had better be used. Those who have to defend castles are also in the habit of making curtains of large oak boughs, three or even five deep, to cover the entire wall; and the curtain should be thoroughly plastered with good sticky clay. To defeat the attacks of the ram, men have sometimes filled large bags with hay or straw and lowered them with light iron chains in front of the ram where it sought to pierce the wall. It sometimes happens that the shots fall so rapidly upon a fortress that the defenders are unable to remain on the battlements; it is then advisable to hang out brattices made of light planks and built high enough to reach two ells above the openings in the parapet and three ells below them. They should be wide enough to enable the men to fight with any sort of weapons between the parapet and the brattice wall, and they should be hung from slender beams in such a way that they may be readily drawn in and hung out again later, as one may wish.

The hedgehog will be found an effective device in defending a castle. It is made of large, heavy beams armed along the ridge with a brush of pointed oak nails; it is hung outside the parapet to be dropped on anyone who comes too near the wall. Turnpikes made of large heavy logs armed with sharp teeth of hard oak may be raised on end near the battlements and kept ready to be dropped upon those who approach the castle. Another good device is the briar, which is made of good iron and curved thorns as hard as steel with a barb on every thorn; and the chain, from which it hangs, as high up as a man can reach must be made of spiked links, so that it can neither be held nor hewn; higher up any kind of rope that seems suitable may be used, only, it must be firm and strong. This briar is thrown down among the enemy in the hope of catching one or more of them and then it is pulled up again. A running wheel is also a good weapon for those who defend castles: it is made of two millstones with an axle of tough oak joining them. Planks sloping downward are laid through the openings in the wall; the wheel is rolled out upon these and then down upon the enemy.

A shot wagon is also a good device. This is made like any other wagon with two or four wheels as one likes and is intended to carry a load of stones, hot or cold, as one may prefer. It must also be provided with two firm and strong chains, one on each side, which can be depended on to check the wagon even where it has a long track to run upon. It is meant to run on planks set with a downward slope, but one must be careful to keep the wheels from skidding off the planks. When the chain checks the speed, the wagon shoots its load out upon the men below. The more uneven the stones are, some large and some small, the more effective the load will be. Canny men, who are set to defend a wall and wish to throw rocks down upon the attacking line or upon the penthouse, make these rocks of clay with pebbles, slingstones, and other hard stones placed inside. The clay is burned hard enough on the outside to endure the flight while the load is being thrown; but as soon as the rocks fall they break into fragments and consequently cannot be hurled back again. To break down stone walls, however, large, hard rocks are required. Similarly, when one hurls missiles from a stone fortress against an opposing wooden tower or upon the axletrees which support siege engines, towers, scaling ladders, cats, or any other engine on wheels, the larger and harder the rocks that are used, the more effective they will be.

Boiling water, molten glass, and molten lead are also useful in defending walls. But if a cat or any other covered engine which cannot be damaged by hot water is being pushed toward a castle, it is a good plan, if the engine is lower than the walls, to provide beams carefully shod with iron underneath and in addition armed with large, sharp, red-hot plowshares. These are to be thrown down upon the wooden engine in which the plowshares are likely to stick fast, while the beams may be hoisted up again. This attack should be followed up with pitch, sulphur, or boiling tar.

Mines dug in the neighborhood of a castle are also an excellent protection; the deeper and narrower they are, the better it is; and where men are showing mounted engines toward the walls, it were well if there were many mines. All mines should have a number of small openings, which must be covered so as not to be visible on the surface. They should be filled with fuel of the most inflammable sort, peat or anything else that burns readily. When a castle is attacked at night either from wooden towers or scaling ladders or any other engine on wheels, the defenders should steal out and fire the mines.

Now if it should happen that the enemy’s stones come over the battlements with such violence that the men cannot remain in the open to defend the wall, it is a good plan to set up strong posts cut from thick oak and to lay large and tough cross beams upon these, then to roof the whole over with firm oak timbers, and finally cover the roofing with a layer of earth not less than three or four ells in depth, upon which the rocks may be allowed to drop. In like manner the attack of a wooden tower that is moving toward a castle may be foiled by setting up strong, firm posts rising considerably higher than the attacking tower. But a more effective contrivance than all the engines that I have now described is a stooping shield-giant which breathes forth flame and fire (16). And now we shall close our account of the engines that are useful in defending castle walls with the reminder that every sort of weapon with which one can shoot, hurl, hew, or thrust, and every kind that can be used in attack or defense may be brought into service.

Other than crazy stuff like wheels and spiked logs on chains and the molten glass and so forth, generally missiles ARE the single most important thing for defending a castle or any other fort. You can look at a lot of medieval art and see many examples of the weapons they are carrying. You will see mostly missile weapons (guns, crossbows, bows).

http://www.astronomytoday.com/images/constantinople-siege-eclipse.jpg

Rocks are probably the number one thing used. (Rocks are used a lot more in pre-industrial warfare of all ages than people really admit). Next in importance are javelins and darts.

http://www.amoriumexcavations.org/image/Siege.jpg

If enemies make it onto the wall you are in real trouble, chances are one side (probably the defender) is heavily outnumbered and about to die.. That said, they also do sorties and repel local breaches and so forth. For hand to hand weapons, you do often see guys with large shields (shields persisted for siege warfare, both for attacker and defender, long after they had declined in popularity (at least for a while) in the front -lines of armies. Polearms are also useful, both to stab and chop at people coming up ladders, as well as for hooking ladders and people to pull them off and away, hopefully to their doom.

http://www.rogerlouismartinez.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/trebuchet_cantigas.jpg

Pre-gunpowder is, in a way, more of a modern RPG thing than most folks think; if you have plate armor in your world you also have guns at that same tech level, troublesome as they are. Stone castles weren't really well developed before guns appeared either for that matter. Just FYI.

http://www.soldiers-of-misfortune.com/galleries/gall_images/siege_14th_century.jpg

Anyway, even if you do not have gunpowder pyrotechnic weapons are also very popular for siege defense and can get very creative, everything from flaming hula hoops to primitive flamethrowers and molatov cocktails are well documented going quite a way back.

http://www.historiclife.com/images/Research/jacks/Full/Schilling2.jpg


G

Brother Oni
2013-05-16, 06:41 PM
Anyway, even if you do not have gunpowder pyrotechnic weapons are also very popular for siege defense and can get very creative, everything from flaming hula hoops to primitive flamethrowers and molatov cocktails are well documented going quite a way back.

You weren't kidding when you said quite a way back: 9th century BC according to the article on Greek Fire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_fire).

The adage "kill it with fire" apparently has a far richer history than I thought. :smallbiggrin:

fusilier
2013-05-17, 03:37 AM
Rocks are probably the number one thing used. (Rocks are used a lot more in pre-industrial warfare of all ages than people really admit). Next in importance are javelins and darts.

This is also true of medieval naval warfare; this image is of the Battle of Zonchio 1499, really more renaissance but the same tactics were in use -- hurl stuff down from the fighting tops.

http://www.skydive.ru/uploads/posts/2012-07/1342602098_muzeum-111.jpg

Spiryt
2013-05-17, 07:38 AM
All kinds of quern and mill stones apparently were very commonly turned instruments of war in Medieval times. :smallbiggrin:

Gallus Anonymus mentions them being used during siege of Głogów (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Głogów).

Also mentions some kind of cranes, that were being used to lift the attackers from their ladders, to make them fall.

Seems like interesting and plausible thing to do, using simple mechanical advantage.

I seem to recall seeing something like that on quite few period illustrations, but can't recall were now.

Galloglaich
2013-05-17, 11:02 AM
All kinds of quern and mill stones apparently were very commonly turned instruments of war in Medieval times. :smallbiggrin:

Gallus Anonymus mentions them being used during siege of Głogów (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Głogów).

Also mentions some kind of cranes, that were being used to lift the attackers from their ladders, to make them fall.

Seems like interesting and plausible thing to do, using simple mechanical advantage.

I seem to recall seeing something like that on quite few period illustrations, but can't recall were now.

There is a famous account of that at the siege of Rhodes in the Hellenistic period, really complicated battle between massive siege towers and cranes and other engines used by the defenders. Supposedly the Collossus of Rhodes was made from the bronze shields left on the last giant siege tower that the attackers had used.

The two really great eras of siege warfare were the late Classical / Hellenistic period and the late Medieval / Renaissance period. That is when you really get a lot of the very sophisticated devices and (mining and counter-mining, massive siege towers, engines and so forth) techniques in use. My candidate for the most epic of the late Renaissance has to be the siege of Malta of which we have some amazing first-hand accounts.


But this has to be the single most amazing story of the siege of a Medieval castle that I ever heard of.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/05/12/world-war-ii-s-strangest-battle-when-americans-and-germans-fought-together.html

G

Fortinbras
2013-05-18, 03:12 AM
So I know that we don't have any manuals detailing historical techniques for sword and "heater"-shield combat, but I curious what sorts of things people have been able to figure out work, based on stuff like sword-and-buckler or sword-and-target systems. I have some familiarity with Morozzo sword-and-buckler system, so I'm particularly interested in how those techniques would fare with a larger shield. Is there any real cross-over? It seems like the size of the heater shield would sort of shut down the roverso-mandritto figure-8 pattern I learned, and in fact make it really hard to through any roverso type cuts, does that ring true for anyone whose messed around with this sort of thing?

Hawkfrost000
2013-05-18, 07:00 PM
So I know that we don't have any manuals detailing historical techniques for sword and "heater"-shield combat, but I curious what sorts of things people have been able to figure out work, based on stuff like sword-and-buckler or sword-and-target systems. I have some familiarity with Morozzo sword-and-buckler system, so I'm particularly interested in how those techniques would fare with a larger shield. Is there any real cross-over? It seems like the size of the heater shield would sort of shut down the roverso-mandritto figure-8 pattern I learned, and in fact make it really hard to through any roverso type cuts, does that ring true for anyone whose messed around with this sort of thing?

In my experience it depends on the size of the heater.

Roverso's over the shield, descending from guardia alta or sopra bracchio tend to be mostly unchanged, (sometimes you need a bit more angle in your steps) but cuts under the shield from soto bracchio tend to be much more difficult and have a more limited set of targets.

DM

AttilaTheGeek
2013-05-19, 12:04 AM
I am considering buying a certain lightsaber (http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e26d/) whose length is "approx. 44 inches long". Is that an appropriate length for a one-handed, hand-and-a-half, or two-handed blade?

Rhynn
2013-05-19, 03:28 AM
I am considering buying a certain lightsaber (http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/e26d/) whose length is "approx. 44 inches long". Is that an appropriate length for a one-handed, hand-and-a-half, or two-handed blade?

That's the length of a one-handed rapier or a two-handed (well, "hand-and-a-half") longsword.

Weapon total length isn't everything; what's more important is hilt/grip length and balancing. Rapiers are hilt/guard-heavy, for instance, with short hilts, so they're one-handed. A sword of the same length and weight as a rapier, but with the point of balance higher, may require two hands to use.

So, how is your lightsaber balanced? :smallamused: (The real way to tell how many hands it's for is to use it.)

Brother Oni
2013-05-19, 05:26 AM
So, how is your lightsaber balanced? :smallamused: (The real way to tell how many hands it's for is to use it.)

Assuming it's authentic, it's all in the hilt. :smalltongue:

On a more serious note, the blades of most lightsabre toys are retractable hollowed out plastic segments, putting the balance somewhere in the lower third of the blade.

Not so sure about the one listed as the blade is removable and probably has various electronic gubbins inside it which may unbalance it.

Rhynn
2013-05-19, 05:30 AM
Assuming it's authentic, it's all in the hilt. :smalltongue:

On a more serious note, the blades of most lightsabre toys are retractable hollowed out plastic segments, putting the balance somewhere in the lower third of the blade.

:smallbiggrin: Bwahaha.

Yeah, actual lightsaber use would be a bit... odd. I don't think there'd really be any reason to put two hands on the hilt, ever - it limits your reach and range of motion, and there's basically nothing to be gained by strength or leverage on it. Well, maybe if you're winding and binding against another lightsaber (well, they never seem to wind & bind, they just push at the other sword).

Edit: Well, two hands on the hilt might be useful in giving control and reducing the risk to lop off your limbs. /Edit

That might be a cool idea - German longsword -style (instead of Ep 4-6 kendo-style or Ep 1-3 Hollywood faux-wuxia) lightsaber dueling with a focus on wind & bind...

Brother Oni
2013-05-19, 07:21 AM
That might be a cool idea - German longsword -style (instead of Ep 4-6 kendo-style or Ep 1-3 Hollywood faux-wuxia) lightsaber dueling with a focus on wind & bind...

Just remember not to accidentally use any half sword techniques. :smallbiggrin:

All the various lightsaber styles have been defined however in the detail that only fans can (link (http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Lightsaber_combat)), so any other style would be fairly minor or esoteric.

AttilaTheGeek
2013-05-19, 08:50 AM
Weapon total length isn't everything; what's more important is hilt/grip length and balancing. Rapiers are hilt/guard-heavy, for instance, with short hilts, so they're one-handed. A sword of the same length and weight as a rapier, but with the point of balance higher, may require two hands to use.

So, how is your lightsaber balanced? :smallamused: (The real way to tell how many hands it's for is to use it.)

I've decided to get the non-removable blade (http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/b72c/) because it's about $30 cheaper and I already have the darth maul one, so I will be able to combine them into one blade (or dual-wield them as two). The center of mass is in the back of the blade, about two inches from the hilt. It feels comfortable to use with either one or two hands, even without exotic weapon proficiency: bastard sword (because that's really what it is, apparently).

Thiel
2013-05-19, 09:31 AM
I've never understood why light sabers weren't more widespread in Star Wars. Even if their utility as a weapon might be questionable, they would make an awesome engineering/breaching tool.

Rhynn
2013-05-19, 09:42 AM
The center of mass is in the back of the blade, about two inches from the hilt. It feels comfortable to use with either one or two hands, even without exotic weapon proficiency: bastard sword (because that's really what it is, apparently).

That sounds like a one-handed sword, and if there's room on the hilt for two hands, that makes it hand-and-a-half, basically. So, yeah, bastard sword. (Appropriate enough, because in the original movies, they were used in a style that looked to be based on kendo, and the katana is essentially a single-edge hand-and-a-half.)

Galloglaich
2013-05-19, 12:39 PM
Marozzo does depict the use of quite large shields, big rotella, which you can see in some of the illustrations, like this

http://www.nova-assalto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/SpadaERotella.jpg

...and bigger ones too.


A heater is a specific type of cavalry shield probably not in use that much by infantry... if you are talking about a Norman style heater, the really long one, that is basically non-existent by the time of Marozzo.

The only real problem I see with a lower roverso cut is really more the shape of such a shield rather than the size.

G

Brother Oni
2013-05-19, 04:58 PM
I've never understood why light sabers weren't more widespread in Star Wars. Even if their utility as a weapon might be questionable, they would make an awesome engineering/breaching tool.

Their creation and maintenance requires a Force capable (not just sensitive) user, which probably makes them not very cost effective for non-Jedi/Sith users to use.

Since they're also very bespoke (Jedi and Sith create them as part of their apprenticeship), supply is very thin on the ground as they can't be mass produced easily.

Thiel
2013-05-20, 02:13 AM
Why? The components are all pretty basic and a lot of them use synthetic crystals. The great thing about synthetic crystals is that they have the same properties which allows for mass production.
Heck, the ligthsaber entry on the star wars wiki even mentions mass produced lightsabers.

Brother Oni
2013-05-20, 02:40 AM
Why? The components are all pretty basic and a lot of them use synthetic crystals. The great thing about synthetic crystals is that they have the same properties which allows for mass production.
Heck, the ligthsaber entry on the star wars wiki even mentions mass produced lightsabers.

Hmm, I think we're both right. According to Wookiepedia, they were 'mass produced' in the sense that materials and (especially) crystals could be easily fabricated to uniform specifications, but the lightsabres still had to be assembled by hand (so not so bespoke that they're in high demand, but neither so numerous that there's a significant over-supply).

In which case, I suspect it's simple cost efficiency - the fusion cutter mentioned in the article's opening quote is probably easier and cheaper to obtain and use, with the added advantage of not drawing unwanted attention depending on the time period: Jedi looking into the possible theft of one of their signature weapons, Imperial forces looking to purge Force users, Sith who would just straight up murder you, vigilantes who want to murder any/all Force users, etc.

warty goblin
2013-05-21, 12:27 AM
OK, so actual real world weapon question. My vague poking at the bronze age continues apace. One thing that seems to occur both in the weapons of the Aegean as well as those of central Europe and the British Isles are leaf-shaped blades. Celtic Europe in particular seems to have produced a lot of blades that have a very pronounced leaf shape, well beyond the slight necking seen later in some patterns of Roman gladius. This seems to be less prevalent in Mycenean/Aegean bronze weapons, and is confined mostly to the Type F and some versions of the ubiquitous Naue II*.

So my question to those with more hands-on experience with swords than myself, which is probably most people on this thread: does anybody have any idea how a leaf-bladed sort of weapon would handle?

Rather more generally, most bronze age warriors don't seem to have enjoyed much in the way of armor, although shields seem to have been very common. The armor that did exist however, particularly in Mycenaean Greece (where they developed nearly full body lamelar harness as early as 1500 BC) and the near East seems to be quite sophisticated. How do you figure this would effect the shape of battle, if relatively few people on the field would have vastly better protection than everybody else?


*A sword pattern that seems to have been made through much of Europe and Egypt for the better part of seven hundred years, in both bronze and iron. Apparently it did something right. The evidence suggests that it was developed by - inevitably - the Celts

Storm Bringer
2013-05-21, 08:01 AM
How do you figure this would effect the shape of battle, if relatively few people on the field would have vastly better protection than everybody else?

i think it would help reinforce the "heroic Mythos" element of the era, with a few, well armed and well trained men taking on and beating a much larger number of poorly armed, ill trained foes.



Rather more generally, most bronze age warriors don't seem to have enjoyed much in the way of armor, although shields seem to have been very common. The armor that did exist however, particularly in Mycenaean Greece (where they developed nearly full body lamelar harness as early as 1500 BC) and the near East seems to be quite sophisticated.

I think this is due in part to the extreme costs of good armour, and the relative availability of metals.

A good suit of armour is expensive. I have seen the costs for a full body suit of mail in the crusades era being described as about the same cost, relatively, as buying a house is today.

Now, back in the bronze age, I would imagine that the costs were even higher, as bronze would be much more expensive and rare (compared to iron in the crusades era). the two major elements of bronzes, copper and Tin, almost never occur together or even near each other, with most of the ancient greek and Egyptian tin coming all the way form Cornwall in England .

thus, only the really rich could afford a full suit of bronze armour, while most just had a helmet, shield and spear.

warty goblin
2013-05-21, 10:20 AM
i think it would help reinforce the "heroic Mythos" element of the era, with a few, well armed and well trained men taking on and beating a much larger number of poorly armed, ill trained foes.

This would be my instinct as well, particularly once you factor in the wealthy elite who could afford armor also being more likely to have received a lifetime of good nutrition. It's worth noting that all the heroes in the Iliad are described as being really big men.

Plus, in an era that predates even city-states, the rank and file is basically going to be fighting for plunder, personal glory and out of personal loyalty to their particular chieftain/king/whatever. Leading from the front and the duel between champions makes sense in this context; it validates the prowess of the chieftain, and minimizes the losses to the victor's manpower.


A good suit of armour is expensive. I have seen the costs for a full body suit of mail in the crusades era being described as about the same cost, relatively, as buying a house is today.
Some sources I've seen suggest maybe 50lbs of iron for an entire Icelandic farm during the Viking age.


Now, back in the bronze age, I would imagine that the costs were even higher, as bronze would be much more expensive and rare (compared to iron in the crusades era). the two major elements of bronzes, copper and Tin, almost never occur together or even near each other, with most of the ancient greek and Egyptian tin coming all the way form Cornwall in England .

thus, only the really rich could afford a full suit of bronze armour, while most just had a helmet, shield and spear.
And we think an economy dependent on international trade is a recent development.

I don't think there's that great of a number of finds of metallic helmets from the bronze age. This could be because they are thin, and so are less well preserved than larger pieces such as swords. It's also possible that helmets, like shields, were often made from organic materials and have long since rotted away. The boar-tusk helmet certainly seems to have been popular in Mycenaean Greece.

Either that, or most soldiers didn't even have helmets.

Also, bronze age helmets are weird, with an odd tendency towards horns.

GraaEminense
2013-05-21, 10:20 AM
I was of the distinct impression that most bronze age armours, like the famous Mycenaean harness below, were charioteers' armours. Partly because the charioteers were a prestigious elite (this was the heyday of the war chariot after all) and partially because bronze harness is heavy.
With those enemies you'd expect to use swords against being unarmoured, I'd expect the leaf shape to give good cutting blows and deadly thrusts but I have never handled a leaf-shape sword.
http://sfrang.com/historia/graphics/10/10-56.jpg
I'd appreciate it if anyone could point me to a source for sophisticated pre-1200 BC infantry armour, because I have none in my (limited, admittedly) library.

warty goblin
2013-05-21, 10:54 AM
I was of the distinct impression that most bronze age armours, like the famous Mycenaean harness below, were charioteers' armours. Partly because the charioteers were a prestigious elite (this was the heyday of the war chariot after all) and partially because bronze harness is heavy.

This page (http://www.salimbeti.com/micenei/armour1.htm) suggests that this particular harness was plenty mobile enough for dismounted combat, based on reconstructions. It also points out that the design of the shoulder protection would make use of javelin or bow quite difficult, which are not attributes favorable for chariot warfare. And the total weight is apparently around 40 - 50 lbs, which is heavy but not unreasonably so for full torso and thigh protection.


With those enemies you'd expect to use swords against being unarmoured, I'd expect the leaf shape to give good cutting blows and deadly thrusts but I have never handled a leaf-shape sword.
This would be my guess as well, that the leaf shaped blade essentially turns the sword into a double edged sort of falcata almost, with the curvature near the tip allowing for very powerful cuts.

Spiryt
2013-05-21, 11:58 AM
This would be my guess as well, that the leaf shaped blade essentially turns the sword into a double edged sort of falcata almost, with the curvature near the tip allowing for very powerful cuts.

I know about nothing about construction of bronze age blades, but even fairly bold curvature on lead shape doesn't really have to make cut more powerful - if only leaf shaped part is kept proportionally thin, and there's a bit more mass closer to the hilt, sword will be balanced similarly to 'no leaf' one.

Broader 'cutting' part will probably improve cutting performance, and more metal in that region would produce bolder swings.

While falcatas seem to actually be significantly forward balanced, though it's still impossible to tell without actually measuring them.

warty goblin
2013-05-21, 12:43 PM
I know about nothing about construction of bronze age blades, but even fairly bold curvature on lead shape doesn't really have to make cut more powerful - if only leaf shaped part is kept proportionally thin, and there's a bit more mass closer to the hilt, sword will be balanced similarly to 'no leaf' one.

The center of mass could indeed be the same - although the moment of inertia about the CoM will differ. How exactly moments of inertia influence performance in the cut is something I wish was studied more closely; I suspect it could well explain at least some of why swords with equal weights and centers of mass can perform quite differently when cutting.

Given just how radically leaf-shaped (http://www.bronze-age-swords.com/British_and_European.htm)a lot of British Isles and mainland Europe swords were though, I rather doubt the center of mass was in the same location as a similarly sized weapon with a 'conventionally' shaped blade. Particularly since the pommels and hilt components of these weapons apparently are quite light, and often entirely made from organic materials. Even when the pommel is bronze, I believe it's usually hollow.


Broader 'cutting' part will probably improve cutting performance, and more metal in that region would produce bolder swings.
This is very true, but it's also worth noting that a leaf shape induces curvature in the edge. How much of an effect this has, I really do not know.


While falcatas seem to actually be significantly forward balanced, though it's still impossible to tell without actually measuring them.
Unfortunately, this sort of information seems almost entirely impossible to find. For whatever reasons, there just doesn't seem to the same scale of enthusiasm and hands-on research leveled at the pre-medieval period.

Spiryt
2013-05-21, 01:15 PM
The center of mass could indeed be the same - although the moment of inertia about the CoM will differ. How exactly moments of inertia influence performance in the cut is something I wish was studied more closely; I suspect it could well explain at least some of why swords with equal weights and centers of mass can perform quite differently when cutting.

The exact mass distrubution is very important as well, AFAIU, center of mass is after all only one most apparent feature.

That obviously leaving aside most obvious things like cross section/general geometry and metallurgy.




This is very true, but it's also worth noting that a leaf shape induces curvature in the edge. How much of an effect this has, I really do not know.


I can be wrong, but I really doubt that curvature in leaf shaped blades really has any significant effect at all, at least effect understood as draw cut etc. effects of curved blade.

Curvature is minimal and ends very quickly, cannot be compared to any curved sabre or messer, where curvature spans trough at least few good inches, and can, therefore, change the dynamics of impact.

Leaf shaped blade will hit like straight one, pretty much, any change in angle of cutting will be eligible compared even to that (http://bronbiala.ewolbrom.pl/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DSC_9019-Kopiowanie.jpg), for example.

Galloglaich
2013-05-21, 01:30 PM
The cost of armor varied enormously. Iron was indeed rare in Iceland, so was wood and many other things - Iceland was a poor island.

Armor was relatively rare in the early Viking age (i.e. 8th Century) but had become ubiquitous by the end of it (11th Century) sufficient that thousands of warriors were clad in mail and the peasant levies required mail armor both in the Viking as well as Frankish records.

By the late medieval period armor had become relatively cheap, closer equivalent in cost to a computer than to a house (though mail specifically, due perhaps to the labor intensive nature of it's creation, remained fairly expensive).

The most important factor in the cost of iron was the cost of materials. In the Bronze Age, Bronze and other copper alloys (brass and copper-arsenic alloys were common in military kit as well) were the product of powerful city-states and rich kingdoms - communities with enough reach to have trading networks that could bring in the necessary ingredients to make Bronze, and had the knowhow to smelt it. The key ingredient for actual bronze was tin, and unlike copper tin, or tin-ore (casseritite) was pretty rare. Most of the sources in Anatolia and the Middle East (where the Bronze Age started) were used up by the Middle Bronze Age and they had to go as far as Western France and England to find it.

So all the other people who were outside of this rather elite system had very little Bronze. This changed with the advent of iron which may have led to the famous Bronze Age Collapse (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bronze_Age_collapse).

I think within those wealthier more organized communites, they were able to arm and armor their soldiers and fighting men; we see armor in period art and quite a bit of armor has survived, including a large number of helmets. Bronze (and Brass etc.) helmets did continue in use well into the Iron Age though so quite a few surviving Bronze helmets are not from that far back, but we have quite a few that are.


With regard to leaf blade swords, I've seen a few last year at the Higgins, and I was surprised how small and thin they were. They looked more robust in the photos I'd seen but you don't usually have context in the photo's. In person they seemed so light that I doubt balance would be much of an issue. The leaf shape seems to have been much rarer with iron swords, why, I really don't know.

G

Straybow
2013-05-21, 10:55 PM
I'm confident a fist would penetrate a human if it imparted sufficient momentum to drive that person through a brick wall. There's a huge difference between forcibly knocking someone back and accelerating them to the point where they smash through rigid architecture. Basically you can't have both. If the energy is concentrated on a small enough area to punch through then the energy doesn't get transferred to hurl the body with cinematic flair.

Second, you can't really have either. I don't think any amount of strength could accelerate (over just a couple feet) the fist and arm to a velocity high enough to punch through. If the punch launches the body it wouldn't go through a wall, it would just splat against it.

If we're looking at it in terms of real world physics.

Straybow
2013-05-21, 11:30 PM
I've been wondering: How much would full plate armour protect against the kinds of magical attacks we see in fantasy (particularly RPG systems)?
Other armour systems may also be interesting to consider. In DnD, it specifically says that a fireball has no concussive blast. That means the flames are not jets of expanding superheated gasses, but magical manifestations that resemble flames and impart heat damage to the things touched. Also, if an unarmored person isn't burnt to a crisp there isn't enough energy to damage metal. We can say the magic tendrils seek out the gaps and burn the flesh beneath.

Likewise for other magical energy effects. A lightning bolt doesn't veer off to the nearest grounding, it goes to a specific target. Acid wouldn't react quickly with metal. Etc.

Well, I'm sure this is not the thread for criticizing the DnD armor class system, but changing to some kind of damage reduction model for armor would take care of most of those considerations abstractly.

Mr Beer
2013-05-22, 01:41 AM
Basically you can't have both. If the energy is concentrated on a small enough area to punch through then the energy doesn't get transferred to hurl the body with cinematic flair.

This is my reasoning, at least at the strength levels I am imagining. I don't know what happens if you scale up to much higher superhuman strength levels, but I suspect you would get a normal human body simply breaking apart before you got punch through plus cinematic knockback.


Second, you can't really have either. I don't think any amount of strength could accelerate (over just a couple feet) the fist and arm to a velocity high enough to punch through. If the punch launches the body it wouldn't go through a wall, it would just splat against it.

If we're looking at it in terms of real world physics.

Well, to model superhuman strength, there needs to be ancillary (perhaps unformalised) superpowers and maybe one of them is a sort of limited "super speed for strikes" otherwise yeah, the super-fist isn't going to go fast enough.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-23, 11:12 AM
Have something interesting I was shown, a while back. Anyone want to discuss this guy demonstrating a firing speed, with a light bow, which is literally faster than Legolas from the Lord of the Rings film?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zGnxeSbb3g

That's pretty impressive. Someone reckoned it's still possible to get some amazng speeds, even with a heavier bow and arrows.

Brother Oni
2013-05-23, 12:02 PM
Have something interesting I was shown, a while back. Anyone want to discuss this guy demonstrating a firing speed, with a light bow, which is literally faster than Legolas from the Lord of the Rings film?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zGnxeSbb3g

That's pretty impressive. Someone reckoned it's still possible to get some amazng speeds, even with a heavier bow and arrows.

He's short drawing with a thumb release, thus with holding the arrow in the hand, he's able to get a high rate of fire.

Yes, it looks nice and fast, but I wouldn't want to put bets on the lethality. There's historical texts which detail the effectiveness of such archery - someone here (Galloglaich, I think) listed an account of a Frankish knight in the Crusades who looked like a porcupine with the number of arrows stuck in his armour (inner gambeson, mail, outer gambeson), apparently without harm.

As a comparison of another quick firing weapon, the repeating crossbow, could loose 10 bolts in 15 seconds. That only had an effective range of 60m and the bolts were often coated in poison to achieve lethality.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-23, 12:26 PM
Lethality with a bow like that seems quite unlikely, I agree. I wonder if it may be possible to achieve low levels of lethality - much as you point out with the repeating crossbow - through the use of a heavier bow? I doubt there is likely to be much effect against armour, no matter how you slice it--but an improved rate of fire which sacrifices accuracy, power, and range for speed sounds like it could sometimes be very useful.

AgentPaper
2013-05-23, 12:35 PM
Could simply be the historical equivalent of suppressing fire. Not really meant to kill someone so much as it's meant to make them duck for cover and prevent them from doing anything.

Loosing a bunch of non-lethal arrows into an army would also be quite useful. Again, might not kill anyone outright, but causing minor wounds and bleeding would do well to soften them up for a later, more serious attack, and would also drain their supplies as they tended to the many wounded.

warty goblin
2013-05-23, 12:37 PM
Lethality with a bow like that seems quite unlikely, I agree. I wonder if it may be possible to achieve low levels of lethality - much as you point out with the repeating crossbow - through the use of a heavier bow? I doubt there is likely to be much effect against armour, no matter how you slice it--but an improved rate of fire which sacrifices accuracy, power, and range for speed sounds like it could sometimes be very useful.

I don't think you could get level of speed with a much heavier bow, simply due to the extra effort required to draw the thing.

And I can't really think of that many applications for shooting a lot of ineffective arrows very quickly. If they can't hurt a guy in armor, the fact you can bounce a lot of them off him doesn't really hinder his running up and stabbing you in the face.

Rhynn
2013-05-23, 12:39 PM
Loosing a bunch of non-lethal arrows into an army would also be quite useful. Again, might not kill anyone outright, but causing minor wounds and bleeding would do well to soften them up for a later, more serious attack, and would also drain their supplies as they tended to the many wounded.

The tactical purpose of arrow volleys was probably mostly to soften up the enemy, anyway - first it rains arrows, then the enemy charges into you, and then a bunch of knights come at your flank or a spot in your front where the line is already wavering. Some of the guys finally break and turn tail, and then your entire battle line gets rolled up.

Of course, it really helps if those arrows are actually killing people, or at least hurting them bad enough to incapacitate them.

AgentPaper
2013-05-23, 12:40 PM
And I can't really think of that many applications for shooting a lot of ineffective arrows very quickly. If they can't hurt a guy in armor, the fact you can bounce a lot of them off him doesn't really hinder his running up and stabbing you in the face.

Not everyone can wear armor, and certainly not full plate armor.

Brother Oni
2013-05-23, 12:55 PM
I don't think you could get level of speed with a much heavier bow, simply due to the extra effort required to draw the thing.

Actually you can with short drawing as you're not using the full power of the bow. More powerful bows tend to be longer, so the distance their maximum pull is at (eg 90lb at 28"), tends to increase, thus you're not pulling as much as the poundage increase would indicate.

You would get tired very very quickly though.


Not everyone can wear armor, and certainly not full plate armor.

But equally, if your arrows can't incapacitate an un-armoured man, what's the point of loosing in the first place?

Additionally, if it takes two or more of your arrows to do the job of one from a fully drawn bow, you're going to run out of arrows very quickly.

Spiryt
2013-05-23, 01:11 PM
He's short drawing with a thumb release, thus with holding the arrow in the hand, he's able to get a high rate of fire.

Yes, it looks nice and fast, but I wouldn't want to put bets on the lethality. There's historical texts which detail the effectiveness of such archery - someone here (Galloglaich, I think) listed an account of a Frankish knight in the Crusades who looked like a porcupine with the number of arrows stuck in his armour (inner gambeson, mail, outer gambeson), apparently without harm.


I'm pretty sure there was absolutely nothing about short drawing, holding arrows in hands or 'such archery' in this Crusade account though.

warty goblin
2013-05-23, 01:12 PM
Not everyone can wear armor, and certainly not full plate armor.

But they can probably carry a shield. Even if the arrows should prove fatal eventually, it's small comfort to the archer if that occurs any time after they get their head split open. I suspect in the realm of discomforting the foe, you're going to need a reasonably powerful bow to do much good. Maybe not a 150lbs monster, but something relatively lethal.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-23, 01:19 PM
Largely, utility I can imagine from using this quick-draw system, would involve attacking unarmed people who, preferably, are not expecting your attack.

AgentPaper
2013-05-23, 01:32 PM
But they can probably carry a shield. Even if the arrows should prove fatal eventually, it's small comfort to the archer if that occurs any time after they get their head split open. I suspect in the realm of discomforting the foe, you're going to need a reasonably powerful bow to do much good. Maybe not a 150lbs monster, but something relatively lethal.

I never said anything about shooting at someone who's charging at you. This is army tactics I'm talking about, so at the very least you've got some other people with their own swords and shields to stand in front of you if the people you're shooting at decide to come at you.

At any rate, I'm not saying it would be a good replacement for normal archery, just that it could be quite useful in certain situations. Even if you never actually fire off three arrows in one and a half seconds in real combat, learning how to do so would probably help you a lot on firing your normal shots faster.

Just like spending a long time lining up your shot, checking the wind, and so on to make the absolute perfect shot probably isn't very useful in direct combat most of the time, but learning how to make such a precise shot is how you learn to make your normal shots more precise.


Also, I'd point out that the main speed-up technique used seems to come from holding the arrows in your hand as you fire, so you don't have to pull them out and load them. This would continue to work to make for much faster, if not quite as blindingly fast, shots even if you pulled all the way back rather than just partway. I'd expect it'd be pretty tiring as well, but it's OK to be tired if you just shot 10 arrows in as many seconds and killed the five guys charging at you with axes.

Brother Oni
2013-05-23, 01:38 PM
I'm pretty sure there was absolutely nothing about short drawing, holding arrows in hands or 'such archery' in this Crusade account though.

You're right, I think I got confused with something else.

The video lists a book, "Arab Archery
An Arabic manuscript of about A.D. 1500 “Book on the Excellence of the Bow and Arrow” and the Description thereof." as a source of inspiration and which apparently is now public domain: link (http://www.archerylibrary.com/books/faris-elmer/arab-archery/).

The part on drawing (Chapter XVIII (http://www.archerylibrary.com/books/faris-elmer/arab-archery/docs/xviii.html)) says the arrowhead should reach the tip of the thumbnail (for war) and the draw should be somewhere in the region of past the jawbone; to the lobe of the ear; or the tragus (I think - the translation says 'the white spot between the lobe of the ear and the side of the beard').

That's pretty much a full draw, any way you shape it.

Spiryt
2013-05-23, 01:41 PM
Also, I'd point out that the main speed-up technique used seems to come from holding the arrows in your hand as you fire, so you don't have to pull them out and load them. This would continue to work to make for much faster, if not quite as blindingly fast, shots even if you pulled all the way back rather than just partway. I'd expect it'd be pretty tiring as well, but it's OK to be tired if you just shot 10 arrows in as many seconds and killed the five guys charging at you with axes.

I don't think it would be faster, actually propably slower, than good old arrow stuck to the ground before you, though.

Things like arrows in hand would probably be more useful too mounted archers, who obviously don't really have simpler methods available.

Killing 5 guys charging at you with 10 arrows is obviously better left to Legolas, such kind efficiency of fire is pretty much uknown in sources before moderm SMG. :smallwink:



That's pretty much a full draw, any way you shape it

The very popularity of all kinds of thumb rings clearly suggest that most 'Eastern' archers in general were seriously hell bent on having as long draw as possible.

Rhynn
2013-05-23, 02:40 PM
I'm pretty sure there was absolutely nothing about short drawing, holding arrows in hands or 'such archery' in this Crusade account though.

Yeah, my impression was that it was just a testimony to the effectiveness of mail + quilt at stopping arrows.

Mike_G
2013-05-23, 03:21 PM
It's trick shooting. It looks cool, but trick shooting doesn't have much to do with combat shooting.

Better to shoot one guy dead than annoy a dozen guys. Maybe you could disperse crowds of angry citizens, like a medieval rubber bullet, but I can't see how short range, low lethality arrows would impress most soldiers.

warty goblin
2013-05-23, 04:58 PM
It's also worth noting that arrows aren't cheap or light. It's not like you can haul a few hundred of them into battle with you, so it's probably worthwhile to make the ones you've got count.

fusilier
2013-05-23, 06:31 PM
In a non-military situation, if you find yourself outnumbered and cornered, then maybe some rapid trick shooting might allow you to escape.

In military combat volume of projectiles is useful as there's a chance that even a weak projectile will land a lucky shot. However, that was typically accomplished by massing archers. Also, you can, to a certain extent, trade effective range for penetration (i.e. an arrow that won't penetrate armor at 100 yards, might do it at 15 yards) -- although I think the aerodynamics of arrows used with bows are pretty good(?), certainly when compared to a military crossbow bolt(?).

Brother Oni
2013-05-24, 02:54 AM
In a non-military situation, if you find yourself outnumbered and cornered, then maybe some rapid trick shooting might allow you to escape.

From accounts, I believe this form of trick shooting was performed by Mongol horse archers when luring the enemy into ambushes. Fast enough to annoy and distract them, not damaging enough to make them think twice about pursuing.

Once the enemy were lured out of position, they reverted back to their full draws, which were far more lethal, just before the Mongol heavy cavalry and infantry trapped and crushed the lured enemy.



Also, you can, to a certain extent, trade effective range for penetration (i.e. an arrow that won't penetrate armor at 100 yards, might do it at 15 yards) -- although I think the aerodynamics of arrows used with bows are pretty good(?), certainly when compared to a military crossbow bolt(?).

A bow is definitely more efficient (you need something like a 200+lb crossbow to match the range of a 90lb self bow) and at ranges over 100', an arrow still retained better killing power than a bolt.
Anything less than 100', a powerful crossbow penetrated armour better.

Edit: Just noticed something amusing - in the video linked earlier, they had a clip from Avatar with one of those blue guys (Na'vi?) drawing the bow in the way that a modern compound archer with a release aid would, which is completely different to any known technique - even Ishi, a completely isolated Native American archer, used a variant of the thumb draw.

GnomeFighter
2013-05-24, 04:01 AM
Edit: Just noticed something amusing - in the video linked earlier, they had a clip from Avatar with one of those blue guys (Na'vi?) drawing the bow in the way that a modern compound archer with a release aid would, which is completely different to any known technique - even Ishi, a completely isolated Native American archer, used a variant of the thumb draw.

Thats going to annoy me now. Doing that you will end up hitting the back of your head or taking your ear off. You could argue they hand being the wrong way is a function of some alien anatomy, but drawing that far back... Your going to have a nasty accident, and going to have allot of problems aiming.


In a non-military situation, if you find yourself outnumbered and cornered, then maybe some rapid trick shooting might allow you to escape.

You don't want to find yourself in that possision. For a start why would you spend time stringing your bow rather than running away?



In military combat volume of projectiles is useful as there's a chance that even a weak projectile will land a lucky shot. However, that was typically accomplished by massing archers. Also, you can, to a certain extent, trade effective range for penetration (i.e. an arrow that won't penetrate armor at 100 yards, might do it at 15 yards) -- although I think the aerodynamics of arrows used with bows are pretty good(?), certainly when compared to a military crossbow bolt(?).

The power of the bow is in its range. With the exception of horse archers (who do not rely on volume) you want your enemy as far away as possible. Once the enemy get close enough you drop your bow and pick up something else. The European archers (both cross and long bow) would have pikes and swords for when the enemy got close enough. You would not see the kind of combat you see in films or D&D with archers shooting that close. Apart from anything else a bow is unwieldy and takes time to fire.

Spiryt
2013-05-24, 04:55 AM
although I think the aerodynamics of arrows used with bows are pretty good(?), certainly when compared to a military crossbow bolt(?).

Well, as far as I heard, all other being equal, shorter arrow will fly better.

Although very heavy bolts could probably indeed face problem with aerodynamics, due to being very thick for their lenght.

Being stiff was definitely big plus, arrows can waste huge amount of their energy by bending around, especially while leaving the bow and archer paradoxing. :smallbiggrin:

Mr. Mask
2013-05-24, 09:56 AM
Another archery related question, if I may: Would archers during wars swap the kind of arrow they were using, for another? Such as, swapping between broad-heads and anti-armour headed arrows?

Galloglaich
2013-05-24, 11:23 AM
Without a doubt. There were many types of arrows that we see in archeological contexts (as arrowheads) and in surviving antiques. Used for many purposes, military as well as hunting and so on.

I think the trick shooting thing bears looking into a bit, not 100% convinced of it's military value but I can think of some circumstances where it would be useful. I'd like to see the manual that guy was working from.

G

Brother Oni
2013-05-24, 11:27 AM
Another archery related question, if I may: Would archers during wars swap the kind of arrow they were using, for another? Such as, swapping between broad-heads and anti-armour headed arrows?

Generally, yes if they had the arrows in supply.

Obviously they wouldn't switch arrows unnecessarily (eg someone bearing down on them, loose the arrow they had then grab the appropriate one), but if they saw an opportunity, then they would.

warty goblin
2013-05-24, 03:00 PM
It's also worth noting that a broadhead is going to cost more than a bodkin point, since it's got a much more complex shape. Therefore it is more difficult and time consuming to forge than the basic square or triangular spike of a bodkin.

Martin Greywolf
2013-05-25, 07:20 AM
A few notes on arrow and bolt aerodynamics and mechanics.

First, two videos of crossbow (unfortunately modern pistol type) and a bow (also modern, notice how arrow has shorter paradoxing time) in action:
Crossbow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjWffrKKSEc)
Bow (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aqkJ8f9rH0)

1) Crossbows are better at release, simply because of lack of archer paradox, all energy goes straight ahead, instead of being spent on bending. Since bolts are thicker, higher draw weights are possible. I suspect that bolts for 6000lbs cranequins had to be metal, but that´s just a speculation on my part.

2) Arrows have better aerodynamics thanks to their shape. They are longer, so they can be fired in an arc effectively and they don´t tumble at the end of their trajectory as bolts tend to do (notice how bolt goes almost sideways a few times, normal crossbow does it later, since it´s longer).

3) Arrows are lighter, especially when we compare most powerful bow to the most powerful crossbow. This has a rather complex effect on penetrating power (you need a few equations to figure out which one is on top where), but allows arrows to fly farther (record with a composite bow is something around 800 meters, far beyond effective range).

4) Bolts have better penetrating power when they hit a target with the same momentum. Remember how arrow bends when you shoot it? Yeah, it does it when it hits something, too. This is irrelevant when firing at unarmored target, but a simple gambeson can make it important (at longish ranges, think 100 meters and more), not to mention mail or plate. Arrow simply spends a great deal of it´s energy bending.

5) Lighter, longer projectiles are easier to deflect to the side. You rarely get a frontal hit at someone in a battle situation.

Spiryt
2013-05-25, 07:32 AM
.
but allows arrows to fly farther (record with a composite bow is something around 800 meters, far beyond effective range).



Those records are quite literally records though, and they were specifically attained as a sport performances - bows and arrows optimized to fly as far as only possible.

Probably no one was doing it with crossbows on any larger scale.

And generally, arrows and bolt weight actually tended to be similar - for similar energy, similar projectile weight was used.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-25, 03:50 PM
It's also worth noting that arrows aren't cheap or light. It's not like you can haul a few hundred of them into battle with you, so it's probably worthwhile to make the ones you've got count.

Very very rarely did European archery in wartime boil down to hitting individual targets.
A well trained Longbowman can during volley-firing fire more than 20 arrows a minute. At Agincourt the English archers fired 15 000 arrows a minute on the advancing Frenchmen. And that is a very conservative estimate.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-27, 11:13 AM
Forgive me for asking so many questions closely together (and thank you for doing such a fine job with my other curiosities). But does anyone know much about what medieval training camps would be like, compared to today's military?

More specifically, I was wondering what the boot camp of a very professional military of around the 1,200s of Europe would be like. Would drill instructors spout profanity at recruits, much as with the Marines?

Rhynn
2013-05-27, 11:53 AM
More specifically, I was wondering what the boot camp of a very professional military of around the 1,200s of Europe would be like. Would drill instructors spout profanity at recruits, much as with the Marines?

There was no such thing.

Common soldiers - militia - were trained locally, at the village, maybe at the market town. The knight who held the manor was responsible for bringing along a set number of men to a muster, usually just a couple (cf. Lances fournies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lances_fournies)). Usually there were specific traditions or ordnances about training so many times a year at these times.

Free cities did the same, generally. Burghers were obliged to own arms and armor (and often owned impressive amounts of them, at least collectively).

Professional warriors - knights and rare full-time men-at-arms - probably received fairly informal personal instruction, and a lot of it.

Mercenaries would probably mostly be drawn from people with experience, or trained informally.

Professional, centrally trained militaries came much later, after the Renaissance. More 17th century than 13th.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-27, 12:09 PM
Is much known about the training the militia would go through?

Spiryt
2013-05-27, 12:13 PM
Knights and members of their retinues could be quite often 'professional' so pretty much living from war, defending territories and raiding other territories, not to mention Crusades...

Peasants would often be required to guard the ramparts or some other border fortifications, keeps, villages, etc.

All kinds of people who were required to fight due to their lands/privileges would rally to arms on different terms, depending on local law.

All kinds of people could be expected to get 'recruited' into those structures, particularly richers knights retiunes, as guards, shooters, brigands in general. People from all kinds of 'society margins' would be often welcome.
And profanities would certainly be widely utilized.

but yeah, nothing similar to modern boot camps.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-27, 12:18 PM
To paraphrase that: Less attempts to break the spirit of recruits by shouting at them, and instead, "Here's what you do, now you try it"?

Rhynn
2013-05-27, 01:19 PM
To paraphrase that: Less attempts to break the spirit of recruits by shouting at them, and instead, "Here's what you do, now you try it"?

I've never heard of any historical documents describing how anyone was trained for war in the Middle Ages. There are some detailed records of how Roman legionnaires were trained, but that's not got anything to do with the Middle Ages, really.

It's just impossible to say, really. A lot of things were never written down. Moreover, even if you found a description of one instance, it's not going to apply anywhere else. There was no "military" like we think of it now, there was no centralization, no rules and probably no instructions on how to train militia. Presumably, everyone tried to teach people the best they could to survive and be useful.

Given that teaching anything often involves a fair bit of cursing and screaming at your students, and that this was about teaching people crucial skills to save their lives and the lives of other, I don't doubt cursing and screaming was involved, but I really suspect it wasn't at all the carefully-crafted psychological deconstruction that modern armies (used to) apply. (They've sort of pulled back from it in the last few decades in much of the Western world.)

Semi-relatedly, the mercenary boot camp in the first book of The Deed of Paksenarrion comes across as pretty anachronistic (even if otherwise fairly accurate - no surprise since the author, Elizabeth Moon, served in the USMC). Granted, it is a set-up with probably more in common with the Roman legions than Medieval musters.

Chromascope3D
2013-05-27, 02:25 PM
Another archery related question, if I may: Would archers during wars swap the kind of arrow they were using, for another? Such as, swapping between broad-heads and anti-armour headed arrows?

This guy (http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCA860ECD7F894424) has a pretty good series explaining (well, ranting about) medieval weaponry, and he answered this fairly recently.
The rant about arrows. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWCN7HId-b8)
He's also done a few about bows in general, the most recent being about longbows specifically (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZpDIpqDwxI), and two (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzGRYEtkL_w) more (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3GHzSg5P-Jw) considerably older ones.

Sorry if I'm too late to the discussion.

Galloglaich
2013-05-27, 04:00 PM
Is much known about the training the militia would go through?

Yes though it's not very accessible to the non academic layman.

In summary, there are two types of training, skill training, which seems to have been organized principally in the form of competitions and is pretty well documented, and actual drill which usually happened in militias, professional armies and mercenary companies.

For commoners, marksmanship contests, of the type you see in various Robin Hood films, William Tell stories and so on, were probably the single most important type of skill test, and hugely popular. Towns put out immense amounts of money to sponsor marksmanship contests with crossbows (and later guns), the English King did so with longbows - hosting mandatory training events and awarding prizes.

The second most important was something called 'fechtschules', a combination instructional event and tournament for fencing with swords, sabers, staffs, and later also rapiers and other weapons. We have a great deal of documentation about these, as well as some period artwork. Alongside this kind of tournament we see practice lifting weights, grappling or wrestling, sparring with special blunt swords, and gymnastics.

For knights, and the merchant elite of the towns, the tournament, joust, fight at the barriers and so on, was key.

Boucicaut described a series of 'feats' that knights should train to become practice expert at, (from my friend Richard Marsden via a 19th Century book:)

1 - While fully armored he leaped on and off his horse without assistance.
2 - He ran great distances in armor to build up his endurance.
3 - With an axe or mace he delivered strikes to a thick logs or a block of stone.
4- He did many leaps while in armor.
5 - He leaped upon his horse in armor while the horse had no stirrups.
6- He danced in his hauberk. (No explanation is given)
7 - He would vault onto the shoulders (unarmored it appears) of a tall man on a horse with no help except grabbing the man by his sleeves. (?)
8 - With one hand on the pommel of the saddle and one hand on the ears of a charger, he'd leap over it.
9 - He'd, unarmored, find two narrow walls and scale up them using his legs and arms.
10 - He'd climb a ladder upside-down. Unarmored he did this one handed.
11 - He and his squires practiced the art of 'darting the lance' (no explanation given).

In some respects this is kind of like the armored, cavalry version of the famous feats of the Fianna.

On the formal group-trianing, we have accounts of this pretty early among the Swiss, in places like the Dithmarschen, in Flanders, and among a lot of the towns. Also certain royal armies and mercenary groups (like the Landsknechts) would do formal drill training, both for cavalry and infantry. Jan Ziska formally trained the Czechs before and during the Hussite wars, including training scouts; Piotr Dunnin started doing this with the Polish Cavalry during the 13 Years War, creating the basis for what would later become the Polish Hussars. I believe the French Royal armies were doing formal cavalry training by the 16th Century.

G

Galloglaich
2013-05-27, 04:08 PM
The top of this image for 'Sol' (the Astrological symbol of the Sun) shows a typical traning scene associated with fencers. You can see them lifting rocks, grappling, sparring with staves, on the ground you see the special type of characteristic sparring swords we now called 'feders' or 'federschwert'

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/Hausbuch_Wolfegg_14r_Sol.jpg/373px-Hausbuch_Wolfegg_14r_Sol.jpg

G

Galloglaich
2013-05-27, 04:22 PM
A 'fechtschule' from 1585

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/52/Das_D%C3%BCsseldorfer_Stadtbild_I_1585-1806_Fu%C3%9Fturnier_im_Schlosshof_1585_Kupferstic h_von_Franz_Hogenberg.jpg/764px-Das_D%C3%BCsseldorfer_Stadtbild_I_1585-1806_Fu%C3%9Fturnier_im_Schlosshof_1585_Kupferstic h_von_Franz_Hogenberg.jpg

G

Brother Oni
2013-05-27, 05:23 PM
A 'fechtschule' from 1585


http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/5/52/Das_D%C3%BCsseldorfer_Stadtbild_I_1585-1806_Fu%C3%9Fturnier_im_Schlosshof_1585_Kupferstic h_von_Franz_Hogenberg.jpg/764px-Das_D%C3%BCsseldorfer_Stadtbild_I_1585-1806_Fu%C3%9Fturnier_im_Schlosshof_1585_Kupferstic h_von_Franz_Hogenberg.jpg

Would this imply that the 'training ground' locations and the regular tournaments to build up skill (not to mention the chance for fame and riches) in games such as Mount and Blade, are not too far away from the truth?

Mike_G
2013-05-27, 06:21 PM
It also depends on the type of troops.

Pikemen would need to be very good at drill, if you wanted them to actually move in formation. That takes a lot of work to do without entangling a bunch of pikes and turning into a mob. I can imagine Swiss instructors bellowing at their new trainees the medieval equivalent of "My grandmother could do that faster and she's dead!" "Didn't your family have any sons to send me?" and that kind of thing.

Boot camp stress is designed to get the recruit used to performing in a loud, stress filled environment. Since combat can be, y'know, loud and stressful. Which is why the cliche of the Drill Instructor bellowing abuse at the recruit from a distance of inches is a good picture of the first few weeks of Marine boot camp. If you can't handle being yelled at, you probably won't do all that well being shot at, and it's best we weed you out in Week 1.

The "break your spirit" thing is exaggerated. Modern Americans are very much individuals, and we have been used to worrying about ourselves first and everyone else later. That isn't good for a military uint, so the idea iis to play down your individual identity (everyone has the same haircut, dresses the same, uses rank and title rather than name) to reinforce the group identity.

Ooh Rah.

Broken spirits don't make good soldiers. People who have been tempered by stress, and put the group before themselves do.

Galloglaich
2013-05-27, 07:27 PM
Would this imply that the 'training ground' locations and the regular tournaments to build up skill (not to mention the chance for fame and riches) in games such as Mount and Blade, are not too far away from the truth?

Yes, though the training grounds seemed to be kind of transitory, events more than institutions. However pretty common events, I think there were about 30 or 40 fechtschules in Strasbourg every year in the early 16th Century for example.

The most important thing were the knightly tournaments, which were definitely used like in Mount and Blade (it was almost like a racing circuit or a martial arts circuit, you could become a rock star) and those shooting tournaments for the towns. The prizes were equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars in todays money in some cases.

G

Roxxy
2013-05-27, 07:34 PM
I've never heard of any historical documents describing how anyone was trained for war in the Middle Ages. There are some detailed records of how Roman legionnaires were trained, but that's not got anything to do with the Middle Ages, really.Could you please share this information as to how Roman legionnaires were trained? That sounds rather interesting to me.

Thiel
2013-05-27, 08:31 PM
Yes, though the training grounds seemed to be kind of transitory, events more than institutions. However pretty common events, I think there were about 30 or 40 fechtschules in Strasbourg every year in the early 16th Century for example.
G
So once a week more or less once you remove all the prayer and saints days?

fusilier
2013-05-27, 11:52 PM
As I understand it, most soldiers from the medieval period and renaissance learned soldiering much like most professions were learned at that time. To quote Guilmartin: "Until the sixteenth century warfare was dominated by men who were not trained in any meaningful sense of the word, but who learned their military skills in childhood and adolescence as a part of their total cultural environment."

Not only does this apply obviously to knights, but it would hold true for militias of the time period as well. The advent of firearms (and probably pikes, although more slowly), changed this equation, and something more familiar to our modern definitions of training began to develop. [Training was pretty much necessary for the safe handling of early firearms.]

The "old-style" by which soldiers learned their trade, usually produced superior soldiers, but it couldn't create them quickly or economically. Which meant that large losses could severely cripple an army for years. Guilmartin, himself, was focused on large naval battles and felt this was a key factor in understanding why Lepanto was a serious defeat for the Ottomans, even though they rapidly rebuilt their fleet.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 03:30 AM
G: Thank you so very much. I had all but given up hope of finding information on the subject. I had not expected to find out such wonderful expectations about the abilities of knights (how does one get on a tall, horse-riding man's shoulders using only their sleeves?).


Mike: Forgive my exaggeration of that point. I agree the soldiers need a strong spirit.

In olden days, I can imagine men needing the individuality hammered out of them less, much of the job done by their upbringing and more closely-knit communities?


Fusilier: I imagine what you say is how it was. My mental image of the training of soldiers is much better now. Thank you.

JustSomeGuy
2013-05-28, 03:59 AM
(how does one get on a tall, horse-riding man's shoulders using only their sleeves?).

you'd have to guess that the tall horserider was supposed to help; bending down, lifting his arms to go with momentum etc.

Also, climbing ladders upside down in full armour?

Mr Beer
2013-05-28, 04:00 AM
In olden days, I can imagine men needing the individuality hammered out of them less, much of the job done by their upbringing and more closely-knit communities?

It's possible they also didn't need as much psychological retraining to be able to kill another human.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 04:19 AM
Guy: I've actually seen a demonstration of climbing an upside-down ladder in plate. Though the armour isn't as heavy as some people think... doing that without armour sounds like far too much exertion for me.


Beer: Though killing is never easy, pretty much. Through much of history, many people were preparing themselves for if they needed to kill leach other, as a regular part of the culture.

Matthew
2013-05-28, 07:43 AM
Could you please share this information as to how Roman legionnaires were trained? That sounds rather interesting to me.

Vegetius (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Publius_Flavius_Vegetius_Renatus) is the obvious source for this, and it is no surprise that his text was popular in the medieval world. I would be surprised if medieval commanders were not doing similar sorts of things within the limits of their resources.



Beer: Though killing is never easy, pretty much. Through much of history, many people were preparing themselves for if they needed to kill leach other, as a regular part of the culture.

It is no coincidence that hunting is so often closely associated with military castes as a pastime. Killing animals, I suspect, is a rather good way to desensitise people in preparation for killing humans.

GnomeFighter
2013-05-28, 08:15 AM
Wow wow wow... That is a BIG claim about hunting making allot of insinuations about people who do hunt and people who work in farming. Unless you can back that up with some evidence I suggest it you remove it before someone takes offense. That is a VERY big leap to make.

Matthew
2013-05-28, 08:17 AM
Wow wow wow... That is a BIG claim about hunting making allot of insinuations about people who do hunt and people who work in farming. Unless you can back that up with some evidence I suggest it you remove it before someone takes offense.

What insinuation do you find offensive? Are you saying that driving a spear into a boar is not good practice for driving a spear into a man? Or are you saying that hunting animals was not a popular pastime amongst military castes? Either way, I am not going to be removing my opinion, wrong or right it is a supposition about the hunt as military training (we know for example that the Mongols did exactly this, which is to say used the hunt to train for military purposes).

GnomeFighter
2013-05-28, 08:22 AM
is a rather good way to desensitise people in preparation for killing humans.

That hunting desensitize people to killing humans. This is a very big claim to make without any sort of evidence, and a very insulting one to those who do hunt, and those who work in farming and animal slaughter.


Either way, I am not going to be removing my opinion, wrong or right it is a supposition about the hunt as military training (we know for example that the Mongols did exactly this, which is to say used the hunt to train for military purposes).

There is a BIG difference to the use of hunting as part of training in terms of accuracy and skill at tracking and use of a weapon against a live target and saying that it desensitize people.

Hunting has been a popular past time among all groups throughout history, not just the military.

Matthew
2013-05-28, 08:25 AM
That hunting desensitize people to killing humans. This is a very big claim to make without any sort of evidence, and a very insulting one to those who do hunt, and those who work in farming and animal slaughter.

I am not saying hunting desensitises people to killing humans, I am saying that it can be used to do that. If you want to teach somebody to kill without killing a man, then killing an animal is the next best thing. If you live in an ancient or medieval society where it is necessary (or perceived as necessary) to militarise your youth to kill, then getting them to kill animals at range and in close quarters is a good first step.



There is a BIG difference to the use of hunting as part of training in terms of accuracy and skill at tracking and use of a weapon against a live target and saying that it desensitize people.

I think you are reading too much into what I am saying. I am not saying hunting turns you into an amoral killer.

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 09:07 AM
Wow wow wow... That is a BIG claim about hunting making allot of insinuations about people who do hunt and people who work in farming. Unless you can back that up with some evidence I suggest it you remove it before someone takes offense. That is a VERY big leap to make. Umm... Well. I was going to reply to Matthew, telling him, "A close friend of mine would agree with you. He grew up on a farm, and went out hunting a lot like everyone else--and they were all tough as nuts." Criminals rarely last long in such places, because everyone knows how to defend themselves and are willing ("hard people" is exactly how my friend describes them and himself). I don't think he, or anyone else there would find that claim offensive.

Matthew
2013-05-28, 09:12 AM
Umm... Well. I was going to reply to Matthew, telling him, "A close friend of mine would agree with you. He grew up on a farm, and went out hunting a lot like everyone else--and they were all tough as nuts." Criminals rarely last long in such places, because everyone knows how to defend themselves and are willing ("hard people" is exactly how my friend describes them and himself). I don't think he, or anyone else there would find that claim offensive.

I suspect we may be missing a political (American?) slant to this where hunting is being criticised as desensitising people to violence, which is much like the contention that violent video games do the same in that it is code for "turns people bad". Could be wrong, just my supposition from the reaction.

Galloglaich
2013-05-28, 09:19 AM
Hunting was definitely a very important part of combat training (and a regular passtime for nobles and commoners as well), as well as something like a coming of age ritual for a lot of young men, I should have mentioned that.

G

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 09:20 AM
I suspect we may be missing a political (American?) slant to this where hunting is being criticised as desensitising people to violence, which is much like the contention that violent video games do the same in that it is code for "turns people bad". Could be wrong, just my supposition from the reaction. Maybe? Haven't heard that particular one before. Could easily be that, considering recent topics in politics.

Of course, the thread has a no politics clause, so I guess we better not talk about that possibility any further.



New Topic: A fellow talked about a story they constructed, for a roleplaying game. It involved a giant turtle which was very difficult to hurt, who would run away into the sea if it got injured, heal and come back. After the PCs failed to kill it miserably, an army came to stop it. The army was described as wielding two-man bills, and four-man pikes.

Anyone know historical examples of multi-person polearms?

Thiel
2013-05-28, 11:00 AM
I've seen an illustration of a hook of some sort that was used by two people to topple siege ladders, but that's all that springs to mind.

Straybow
2013-05-28, 11:49 AM
Also, climbing ladders upside down in full armour?


Guy: I've actually seen a demonstration of climbing an upside-down ladder in plate. Though the armour isn't as heavy as some people think... doing that without armour sounds like far too much exertion for me. I think the confusion here is the wording. "Upside down" might be better phrased as "climbing up the underside of a canted ladder," hooking the rungs with heels or knees and doing most of the lifting with the arms.

Straybow
2013-05-28, 12:08 PM
Hunting was definitely a very important part of combat training (and a regular passtime for nobles and commoners as well), as well as something like a coming of age ritual for a lot of young men, I should have mentioned that.

G On a farm you kill a corralled animal. Boar hunting in particular was how young men learned how to stand with a set spear before a charge.

Michael Loades' show on medieval life (2012, I think) showed how deer hunting back then wasn't one guy staking out a deer path from tree stand. It was a group effort that paralleled, in some ways, the roles and group cohesion necessary for battlefield effectiveness.

warty goblin
2013-05-28, 12:16 PM
On a farm you kill a corralled animal. Boar hunting in particular was how young men learned how to stand with a set spear before a charge.

Michael Loades' show on medieval life (2012, I think) showed how deer hunting back then wasn't one guy staking out a deer path from tree stand. It was a group effort that paralleled, in some ways, the roles and group cohesion necessary for battlefield effectiveness.

Even killing corralled animals has some effect. It's something to cut a creature open, and realize all it's nothing but a sack of blood and organs, and you can make them stop working. It takes killing from an abstract to a known reality.

Storm Bringer
2013-05-28, 12:34 PM
Maybe? Haven't heard that particular one before. Could easily be that, considering recent topics in politics.

Of course, the thread has a no politics clause, so I guess we better not talk about that possibility any further.



New Topic: A fellow talked about a story they constructed, for a roleplaying game. It involved a giant turtle which was very difficult to hurt, who would run away into the sea if it got injured, heal and come back. After the PCs failed to kill it miserably, an army came to stop it. The army was described as wielding two-man bills, and four-man pikes.

Anyone know historical examples of multi-person polearms?

for those who want to see it, here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CfyU1mOZ1E&list=PLCA860ECD7F894424&index=51)is the video Mr Mask is on about.

I personally, disagree with his ideas about four man pikes. I honestly think it would be easier to use a Ballista or similar bolt thrower to try and penetrate the turtles shell.

Brother Oni
2013-05-28, 12:49 PM
Even killing corralled animals has some effect. It's something to cut a creature open, and realize all it's nothing but a sack of blood and organs, and you can make them stop working. It takes killing from an abstract to a known reality.

I can't remember the source, but don't most serial killers supposedly start with small animals at an early age first?

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 01:02 PM
for those who want to see it, here (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CfyU1mOZ1E&list=PLCA860ECD7F894424&index=51)is the video Mr Mask is on about.

I personally, disagree with his ideas about four man pikes. I honestly think it would be easier to use a Ballista or similar bolt thrower to try and penetrate the turtles shell. Wasn't saying it was a good idea. Ballista definitely sound like a much better plan, even if multi-user polearms are plausible.

Either way, getting through a gigantic turtle's shell might be something of a wasted effort. The snapping turtle can deflect some bullets off its shell (might've just been pistol rounds), and it isn't any bigger than a car's tire. A turtle bigger than a house... not sure what you could use to get through that armour.

Spiryt
2013-05-28, 01:09 PM
There are some source mentions about 2, 3 etc. men wielding polearms in sources like about Battle of Roosebeke, I believe.

But it pretty much seems to be about making sure that band of infantrymen stays in as tight order as possible when hell breaks loose.

I can't really imagine how it would improve impact of actual strikes. In fact interfering would be more certain

Martin Greywolf
2013-05-28, 01:20 PM
Never heard about multiple-man polearms as such, they seem ridiculously impractical. You could have long (4-6 metres) pikes that soldiers in rear rows laid on the shoulders of those in front of them, but that´s about it.

If we ignore square-cube law (as we have to for any fantasy RPG ever), then the best was to kill that turtle would be a big pit and a rock. If that didn´t work, then clearly, it wasn´t a big enough rock :smallamused: .

Galloglaich
2013-05-28, 02:23 PM
On a farm you kill a corralled animal. Boar hunting in particular was how young men learned how to stand with a set spear before a charge.

Michael Loades' show on medieval life (2012, I think) showed how deer hunting back then wasn't one guy staking out a deer path from tree stand. It was a group effort that paralleled, in some ways, the roles and group cohesion necessary for battlefield effectiveness.

With a lot of different types of dogs....


Along similar lines, it's interesting to note that butchers show up quite a bit in the town militias and among the fencing masters, along with furriers and various leather workers, and cutlers.

Imagine fighting a guy with blades, who had been working as a butcher for 10 or 15 years... something extra scary about that to me.

G

Mr. Mask
2013-05-28, 02:37 PM
Butchers know how to cut meat and bone. And guess what? You're made of those things.

No, really. Ten years carving animals gives you some insight into cutting things--living or dead.

AmberVael
2013-05-30, 09:05 PM
So, I'm thinking about doing a bit of homebrew about crossbows. However, you don't see crossbows in myth and fantasy quite as much as you do other weapons, so I don't feel as familiar or comfortable with them as I would something like a sword or a bow.

With this in mind, I'd like to learn a bit more about them, and in general what people think about them. My understanding is that they're relatively easy to use (point and click is not such a hard concept compared to using a sling or bow) and put some real power behind their bolts. Of course, slow firing is also something people seem to associate with them, given how bolts were reloaded.
If any of these things are wrong or could have more detail behind them, please do enlighten me. :smallwink:

Beyond just the basic facts though, I'm interested in hearing what people think their coolest uses and features are. Stories, weird quirks, wacky stuff- pretty much anything that is interesting and has to do with crossbows.
Or terrible. Or spectacularly terrible. A piece of history in my town has taught me that horrible failures can be just as fascinating and inspiring as success. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-barreled_cannon) :smallbiggrin:

Galloglaich
2013-05-30, 10:47 PM
There is lots of cool stuff about crossbows, quite complex weapons actually ranging from light and easy to use to strong and very deadly (and not so easy to use).

Can you narrow down what you are interested in specifically a bit more? Social context of crossbows? Military context? Tactical use? history? Different types and their characteristics?

G

Fortinbras
2013-05-30, 11:36 PM
New Topic: A fellow talked about a story they constructed, for a roleplaying game. It involved a giant turtle which was very difficult to hurt, who would run away into the sea if it got injured, heal and come back. After the PCs failed to kill it miserably, an army came to stop it. The army was described as wielding two-man bills, and four-man pikes.

Anyone know historical examples of multi-person polearms?

Here (http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=21964) is a thread on My Armoury discussing a similar topic. Apparently there are some references to such occurrences in Villani's Nuova Cronica.

warty goblin
2013-05-31, 12:13 AM
I can't really imagine how it would improve impact of actual strikes. In fact interfering would be more certain

In the case of assaulting giant turtles, I'd think they'd be used essentially as small battering rams. In which case a heavier, thicker pike propelled by four men could offer substantial advantages in terms of penetration over four men with normal pikes. Since they aren't being used in human-on-human warfare here, I don't think the usual standards quite apply.

Mr Beer
2013-05-31, 12:21 AM
I can't remember the source, but don't most serial killers supposedly start with small animals at an early age first?

Yep, animal torture/killing is one of the strongest indicators/precursors to serial killing. It's part of the process of building the strong internal fantasy of ritualistic murder that is at the core of serial killers.

Since it got such a strong reaction above, I should probably mention that hunting isn't associated with serial killing, at least to my knowledge. The excitement of the hunt is something natural to predatorial animals and that includes homo sapiens.

Oh and yeah, hunting is associated with helping military recruits overcome their aversion to killing humans. Making newbies personally kill farm animals has been used in modern Western military training for that exact purpose.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-31, 03:25 AM
Hunting has been a popular past time among all groups throughout history, not just the military.

I don't think hunting, as such, made it easier to kill people.

However up until fairly recently, Death was much closer than it is now. The Reaperman was always present, at least up until vaccines. Death was until just 100 years ago, something everybody lived with and experienced on a personal level. Wars, famine, disease, accidents. It might be easier to kill, if death is thought of as something natural, and common. In the last 100 years not only have we started to try to prevent death, but we have started to more and more treat death as an anomaly, something that is "wrong" and "unnatural". Farmers and hunters still live closer to death us city folks.

Edit: Sidenote: On the other hand people tend to misunderstand the "average lifespan: 35 years of age" thing about dark ages and such... If you lived past your early childhood, it was much more common than most people think to live well into your 60ies and 70ies at least. The mast majority of deaths were infants or young children, which drastically lowers the "average lifespan".

Mr. Mask
2013-05-31, 03:32 AM
Fortinbras: Thank you for linking me to that. That was a very interesting discussion.

TuggyNE
2013-05-31, 03:49 AM
Edit: Sidenote: On the other hand people tend to misunderstand the "average lifespan: 35 years of age" thing about dark ages and such... If you lived past your early childhood, it was much more common than most people think to live well into your 60ies and 70ies at least. The mast majority of deaths were infants or young children, which drastically lowers the "average lifespan".

This is why 95% of statistics are lies.*"Average" does not mean what you (in general) think it means.

*See what I did there?

GnomeFighter
2013-05-31, 04:03 AM
On the other hand people tend to misunderstand the "average lifespan: 35 years of age" thing about dark ages and such... If you lived past your early childhood, it was much more common than most people think to live well into your 60ies and 70ies at least. The mast majority of deaths were infants or young children, which drastically lowers the "average lifespan".

It is interesting when people talk about how life was short, or people living longer now. The book of Psalms (written over 2000 years ago) gives the human life span of 70-80 years. Now, this may have been "as long as you can hope for", but it seems reasonable that this was not a massive wish, but a reasonable hope for someone who avoided major illness or war.

Yes, the average has shifted due to better anti natal and post natal care, better medical care all round, and less killing each other, but our expected life span has shifted very little in 2000+ years.

Brother Oni
2013-05-31, 07:01 AM
So, I'm thinking about doing a bit of homebrew about crossbows. However, you don't see crossbows in myth and fantasy quite as much as you do other weapons, so I don't feel as familiar or comfortable with them as I would something like a sword or a bow.

Crossbows are comparatively newer than bows (earliest recorded mention is 5th century BC), so there's not as much mythology behind them.

As for appearances in fantasy, the typical image of a crossbow is an early Medieval period one, which starts to places boundaries on the technology level on your otherwise generic Dark Age fantasy setting.
In visual media, modern crossbows use a pulley system so cannot be easily substituted for historical ones and the number of people who still make historically accurate crossbows are rather thin on the ground, increasing the cost of renting one. This is not including any legal issues regarding crossbows, especially weapons legislation.



With this in mind, I'd like to learn a bit more about them, and in general what people think about them. My understanding is that they're relatively easy to use (point and click is not such a hard concept compared to using a sling or bow) and put some real power behind their bolts. Of course, slow firing is also something people seem to associate with them, given how bolts were reloaded.

As Galloglaich said, it's a very broad question. For an overview, the wikipedia article (link (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossbow)) is quite good and we can help fill in more of the specifics, things that aren't covered (eg actual use), or unusual variants (eg repeating crossbows).

I can't speak for a sling, but a bow is very simple to pick up and use. The hard part is getting consistent power output and the strength to use a heavy draw (powerful) bow, which is where crossbow wins out.


This is why 95% of statistics are lies. "Average" does not mean what you (in general) think it means.


Taking your comment at face value, I think it's more like most people don't know how to correctly interpret statistics and are thus manipulated by people who do know how to use them.

When most people say 'average', what they actually mean or want is the 'median'.

AmberVael
2013-05-31, 07:07 AM
Can you narrow down what you are interested in specifically a bit more? Social context of crossbows? Military context? Tactical use? history? Different types and their characteristics?

It's hard for me to narrow it down, really. There's a lot of stuff from all of those categories that I could find useful, which is why I phrased it like I did.

What I'm looking for is inspiration for a sort of heroic or possibly even superhuman fighting style based around crossbows (a crossbow based Tome of Battle discipline, specifically). While that does mean realism can be put a bit to one side, I think having an accurate understanding of how crossbows were actually used (on a personal and tactical level) could prove handy. It also means that I'm interested in legendary or near legendary accomplishments with a crossbow, and in general knowing what people think or were thinking of crossbows, whether or not they were correct.

I can probably narrow down the kind of crossbows to be looked at though, given that this would be aimed at a more typical medieval fantasy setting (standard D&D). Stuff that would be relevant to that period would probably be most helpful.

Really though, you could toss me anything that you think is fascinating or interesting about crossbows and I'd appreciate it and might be able to put it to use.

AgentPaper
2013-05-31, 07:25 AM
If you're looking for class/archetype ideas, then one that comes to mind would be the plucky engineer or tinker, who makes his own crossbow, and upgrades it in various ways so that it shoots more bolts, faster, and makes specialized bolts that do crazy stuff like explode, spit acid, create a sonic boom to deafen people, latch onto walls and make a grappling hook, etc, etc.

Crossbows don't have much of an established mythology since they're the weapon of the common man, and weren't around long enough or sufficiently different from bows enough to make their own legends, at least none that are common knowledge today. Instead, you're better off either tapping into the scientist/engineer mythos, or possibly some of the early gun mythos, IE a gunslinger type crossbow user using hand crossbows as revolver proxies. The demon hunter from Diablo 3 is a good example of the latter.

Avilan the Grey
2013-05-31, 07:36 AM
It is interesting when people talk about how life was short, or people living longer now. The book of Psalms (written over 2000 years ago) gives the human life span of 70-80 years. Now, this may have been "as long as you can hope for", but it seems reasonable that this was not a massive wish, but a reasonable hope for someone who avoided major illness or war.

Yes, the average has shifted due to better anti natal and post natal care, better medical care all round, and less killing each other, but our expected life span has shifted very little in 2000+ years.

Not having the statistics in front of me, but I think there is a huge difference when you get close to 70 somewhere. Because that's when your immune system and general constitution takes a sharp dive downhill and you are back into "infant and young children" category, sensitivity-wise. Basically when your health started failing due to old age, you were again much more likely to die. This is why it is a huge deal that we pushed the life expenctancy up from 75 to 80 in the last quarter of the 20th century (again, average age).