PDA

View Full Version : Excuses to use swords in a western



Teapot Salty
2014-02-10, 10:37 PM
Hey guys. (k, to ad to this question, anyone got a better intro?) As you could probably gather from the title, I'm looking for an excuse to use swords in a western, be it for a campaign or a fanfic. Any Help is appreciated.

GenericGuy
2014-02-10, 10:44 PM
What type of western?

A lot of post-apocalyptic settings have a very western feel (fallout, and zombie movies come to mind), and often characters will use melee weapons because bullets are scarce.

Red Fel
2014-02-10, 10:49 PM
Cowboy samurai. Obviously.

Teapot Salty
2014-02-10, 10:50 PM
What type of western?

A lot of post-apocalyptic settings have a very western feel (fallout, and zombie movies come to mind), and often characters will use melee weapons because bullets are scarce.
Red Dead Redemption style western.

Xaotiq1
2014-02-10, 10:50 PM
The monster hunting, catholic priest has such an abysmal dexterity that a sword is his best option. From a Deadlands campaign.

Teapot Salty
2014-02-10, 10:51 PM
Cowboy samurai. Obviously.
But.... But guns......

GenericGuy
2014-02-10, 10:56 PM
Red Dead Redemption style western.

Remember Undead Nightmare?:smallwink:

Teapot Salty
2014-02-10, 11:00 PM
Remember Undead Nightmare?:smallwink:

Quickly me, sound like the biggest idiot ever.


No, what's that.

1337 b4k4
2014-02-10, 11:03 PM
Zorro

[/thread]

squiggit
2014-02-10, 11:05 PM
Swordcanes are a good holdout weapon.

Jenrock
2014-02-10, 11:05 PM
If you set your game early enough in the West, say between 1807 and 1875ish (around the time the Colt Peacemaker started gaining traction), most guns used a cap and ball system. I bring that up because those guns took a while to reload, so you might be able justify a character eschewing reloading in favor of charging the bad guys with a yard of sharpened steel.

GenericGuy
2014-02-10, 11:07 PM
Quickly me, sound like the biggest idiot ever.


No, what's that.

Anyways; I think scarcity of ammo is still your best option, perhaps some really remote frontier outpost in the north-west during the winter and shipments can't make it through the wilderness/snow.

Thinker
2014-02-10, 11:14 PM
Hey guys. (k, to ad to this question, anyone got a better intro?) As you could probably gather from the title, I'm looking for an excuse to use swords in a western, be it for a campaign or a fanfic. Any Help is appreciated.

If you need stealth, a small sword or a knife is superior to a gun for quickly taking out enemies without raising an alarm (like Zorro, though he tends to pre-date typical Old West tales). Suppressors weren't invented until the early 20th century so they wouldn't have been available in the Old West. It may also be easier to conceal a small blade than a gun in case your character is searched or captured. Firearms could also be outlawed in some places, while swords and/or knives are not.

If magic is available, there could be any number of reasons to use swords instead of guns. They might work as a focus for the magic. Spells might empower the blade to do more than it normally would (deflecting bullets, attacking at range, increasing mobility, etc.).

Swords may be the only way to defeat certain opponents. A vampire might go down from bullets to the chest, but you might need a sword to lop off its head afterward.

In post-apocalyptic settings with an Old West aesthetic, ammo might be rare so melee weapons might not be uncommon.

As for your other question, you don't really need to have a greeting like "hello" on the forum. It's not common etiquette, though there's no harm in continuing. :smallsmile:

ParsimonyJones
2014-02-10, 11:19 PM
The Western genre is often around the time of the Civil War, during which cavalry sabers were still plausibly useful. I don't know anything about real-world marksmanship, but slashing while riding past someone feels like it would be a more natural fit than trying to aim and shoot while galloping.

Mighty_Chicken
2014-02-10, 11:26 PM
In 19th century Japan, technology for guns was already there, but swords were everywhere anyway. They happened to have a warrior caste that had been not only advancing their technique with the sword for a thousand years, but also developing a whole philosophy around swordsmanship for the past few centuries. So swords and other melee weapons were still common for practical and cultural reasons.

Knaight
2014-02-10, 11:32 PM
The Western genre is often around the time of the Civil War, during which cavalry sabers were still plausibly useful. I don't know anything about real-world marksmanship, but slashing while riding past someone feels like it would be a more natural fit than trying to aim and shoot while galloping.

There was a great deal of cavalry fighting that boiled down to riding up with a pistol, firing it, then riding back away.

Mark Hall
2014-02-11, 12:10 AM
I particularly like the "ammo is scarce" option, and the excuse that you're going to have cavalrymen who still carry their weapons. You might combine the two and change the look of western dueling culture, to where it's acceptable to use a gun in combat, but for duels, you're supposed to use a sword (especially as stray sword swings in a duel are less likely to cause the death of bystanders than spare bullets).

oudeis
2014-02-11, 12:14 AM
Swords never require an excuse, but merely a pretext.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-11, 12:27 AM
A cavalry sabre, a naval cutlass, a remittance man's small sword or rapier, a dandy's sword cane, there is plenty of excuses to use swords in a western. More exotically but still possible (though check with your GM) is immigrant from Eastern Asia using one the swords of their native culture, like a dao or a khukuri.

The_Werebear
2014-02-11, 01:43 AM
The Western genre is often around the time of the Civil War, during which cavalry sabers were still plausibly useful. I don't know anything about real-world marksmanship, but slashing while riding past someone feels like it would be a more natural fit than trying to aim and shoot while galloping.

The bigger issue was trying to reload a cap and ball revolver while mounted. If both sides are riding up, firing, and falling back, you can reload on then, but if the issue is pressed, you need something.

Vanitas
2014-02-11, 01:45 AM
1-You really like swords.
2-You really hate guns.
3-You are so good with a sword, it's actually better than a gun.
4-All of the above.

Mark Hall
2014-02-11, 01:52 AM
1-You really like swords.
2-You really hate guns.
3-You are so good with a sword, it's actually better than a gun.
4-All of the above.

Alan. Bourdillion. Traherne.

:smallbiggrin:

Ravens_cry
2014-02-11, 01:57 AM
The bigger issue was trying to reload a cap and ball revolver while mounted. If both sides are riding up, firing, and falling back, you can reload on then, but if the issue is pressed, you need something.

Plus, they weren't called cavalry sabres because they were used by the horses. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_1840_Cavalry_Saber)

Mr. Mask
2014-02-11, 02:11 AM
Armour is a consideration. If some of the best plate harness was available for some reason, it will definitely stop pistols and shotguns. Rifles are more questionable--but I think they were on average a bit less penetrative than the early firearms made to counter heavy armour.

Mastikator
2014-02-11, 02:18 AM
http://emergingcivilwardotcom.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/custer-portrait.jpg
Picture of General Custer. Notice he has a sword.

Ninjadeadbeard
2014-02-11, 02:18 AM
Alan. Bourdillion. Traherne.

I don't know if that's a spell or what, but I agree.

BrokenChord
2014-02-11, 02:19 AM
Plus, they weren't called cavalry sabres because they were used by the horses. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Model_1840_Cavalry_Saber)

This reminds me vaguely of some 3.0 Dungeons and Dragons book that mentions a point at which a Paladin's special warhorse realizes that it has a higher intelligence than its Paladin. I'm now trying to imagine the ways that horse could engage in swordplay with a sword properly attached to its armor :smalltongue:

Scow2
2014-02-11, 02:43 AM
In addition to cavalry (Which also allows a bulletproof breastplate!) you could go with the Priest idea.

I had a catholic priest for a Savage Worlds campaign that carried a bible in one hand, and a sword disguised as a cross in the other. (He was also secretly a member of the secretly-revived order of the Knights Templar - or at least a similarly ordained knighthood to function in a similar role in North America)

Ravens_cry
2014-02-11, 03:12 AM
This reminds me vaguely of some 3.0 Dungeons and Dragons book that mentions a point at which a Paladin's special warhorse realizes that it has a higher intelligence than its Paladin. I'm now trying to imagine the ways that horse could engage in swordplay with a sword properly attached to its armor :smalltongue:
The warhorse could use a mouthpick weapon. It's from Lords of Madness according to the internet and it allows any weapon so imbued to be used by a creature with a bite attack. Like a warhorse (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/horse.htm).

Beleriphon
2014-02-11, 10:39 AM
Lets not forget that even today US Marine officers are still issued perfectly good combat read swords. Mind you they don't exactly train to use the things, but they still have them.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-11, 10:53 AM
The swords they give the Marines in recent years are total rubbish, good only as scrap metal. They used to give them nice swords.

Jay R
2014-02-11, 10:59 AM
Any cavalry or naval officer would have a sword. A large number of cavalry troops might also have them.

A Google search on "19th century American sword" gets over 60,000 hits.

Worgwood
2014-02-11, 11:29 AM
I actually have to ask: why a Western if you're going to use a sword? The revolver and rifle are sort of iconic to the period and better in most conceivable ways. Even the limitations of early cap-and-ball loading can be overcome if a gunman carries extra pistols, pre-loaded cylinders, or even a derringer.

That said, it's worth noting that the Western shares plenty of its conventions with other genres which feature the sword as their primary weapons. Good examples are Yojimbo and Seven Samurai, from which Fistful of Dollars and Magnificent Seven were directly adapted.

Incidentally, it might be worth your looking into the Japanese versions of those films, as they both feature sword-wielding heroes pitched against gunmen: Yojimbo's protagonist is pitched against a gangster who wields the only gun in town (a revolver), while in Seven Samurai, the bandits have a handful of muskets which they use against the heroes.

It's not like you can't have a hero in a Western who uses a sword - they were carried for a reason, along with knives, bayonets, and hatchets - but it's important to remember that they were secondary to infantry and artillery guns. Of course, if superhuman or supernatural elements come into play, that might not strictly be true anymore.

Sith_Happens
2014-02-11, 11:30 AM
In 19th century Japan, technology for guns was already there, but swords were everywhere anyway. They happened to have a warrior caste that had been not only advancing their technique with the sword for a thousand years, but also developing a whole philosophy around swordsmanship for the past few centuries. So swords and other melee weapons were still common for practical and cultural reasons.

FTFY. The reason Japan still used swords was because the samurai looked at guns, looked at their thousand years' worth of suddenly-obsolete sword technique, and responded by outlawing the guns.

Mark Hall
2014-02-11, 11:34 AM
I don't know if that's a spell or what, but I agree.

You need to watch more Westerns. :smallbiggrin: It's a reference to El Dorado, starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan (as the aforementioned Alan Bourdillion Traherne aka Mississippi).

GungHo
2014-02-11, 12:06 PM
FTFY. The reason Japan still used swords was because the samurai looked at guns, looked at their thousand years' worth of suddenly-obsolete sword technique, and responded by outlawing the guns.
In the mid-to-late 1500s, Japanese armories were manufacturing tanegashima (matchlocks) well ahead of any Western power in both quantity and quality. The generals loved firearms. They dedicated people to inventing techniques for serial firing, inclement operation, and an expansion in calibers.

They stopped using them much in the Edo period because they stopped needing them. There weren't any huge battles that required a bunch of musketeers to line up. Swords and spears were more pratical for what types of engagements they needed. Law enforcement concentrated on a lot of pole weapons. Gunsmiths were still around and still busy, but they were maintaining weapons in armories or maintaining a samurai's hunting musket.

When the Meiji government started to modernize, the gunsmiths switched over to minie rifles, breach loaders, and repeaters, and the Satsuma Rebellion was basically a underline in how well that modernization went when a bunch of hardliners with swords and old-timey matchlocks got mowed down by 300 years of firearms advancement from a place that rather than scaling down conflicts, had only been scaling them up.

Regarding laws... "regular folks" didn't run around with guns because "regular folks" didn't run around with any armaments in the first place. There wasn't much of a frontier that needed to be tamed. It wasn't so much "you can't have guns" as "we're here to do that, go back to work".

Elana
2014-02-11, 12:17 PM
How about simply claiming

"The sword is not as clumsy or random as a gun. An elegant weapon, for a more civilized age."


Of course learning to parry bullets could take some time ;)

comicshorse
2014-02-11, 12:29 PM
You need to watch more Westerns. :smallbiggrin: It's a reference to El Dorado, starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan (as the aforementioned Alan Bourdillion Traherne aka Mississippi).

Yeah but the first thing John Wayne's character does is insist Mississippi get himself a gun :smallcool:

Calen
2014-02-11, 12:30 PM
The Corean series by L E Modesitt Jr. (or at least the 3 that I have read) feature a culture where the firearms and the sabers are fairly balanced. The military forces in those books will open fire, charge and switch to saber/melee combat.

Something like that could work especially if you are willing to make the western part of your game/story more thematic and/or cut back on technology a little bit to make guns take longer to reload. (As mentioned above the common weapons during the Civil war and earlier all took a while to reload. 50-60 years before that they didn't even have revolvers.) A western could easily take place in that time frame. "remember the Alamo"

Joe the Rat
2014-02-11, 12:32 PM
Are we talking "real" west western, or fantasy pastiche western? Because the latter gives you more leeway.

Zorro was a good suggestion: you can have the essence of the western-type setting without Sixguns and Winchesters. However, a classic Cowboy setting really needs those revolvers.

Or contrast all of this with Argentinian Gaucho culture, which trades out the sixgun fetish for knife-nut tendencies (seriously, they carry the equivalent of a kitchen knife block, each with specific use, including the big-ass "knife fight" knife). And bolas, which are always fun. Spread the idea of honor/dueling being a hand-to-hand affair, with firearms being more of a hunting and war tool, toss in some other cool weapon options, and there you go.


You need to watch more Westerns. :smallbiggrin: It's a reference to El Dorado, starring John Wayne, Robert Mitchum, and James Caan (as the aforementioned Alan Bourdillion Traherne aka Mississippi).Well no wonder he carries a knife.

(It's my favorite western.)

A Tad Insane
2014-02-11, 01:21 PM
Watch Kung Fu. Even if you don't get any ideas from it, it's still amazing

Drakefall
2014-02-11, 05:32 PM
If Quintin Tarantino's oriental-western hybrid movies are anything to go by the answer is simply because wuxia.

Alternatively, because why not it looks cool so nyah.:smalltongue:

Jay R
2014-02-11, 05:57 PM
Make it the early west. The revolver wasn't invented until 1836, and wasn't common until the Civil War or so. Repeating rifles weren't used until the Civil War.

Before guns are multi-shot, swords are much more valuable. Let's face it, the Bowie knife is functionally a falchion, pretty much..

Knaight
2014-02-11, 06:45 PM
A cavalry sabre, a naval cutlass, a remittance man's small sword or rapier, a dandy's sword cane, there is plenty of excuses to use swords in a western. More exotically but still possible (though check with your GM) is immigrant from Eastern Asia using one the swords of their native culture, like a dao or a khukuri.

It's not even that exotic - there were a huge number of Chinese immigrants in the western U.S. during the relevant time periods, particularly during the railroad booms. This is practically expected, really.

The Oni
2014-02-11, 06:54 PM
This reminds me vaguely of some 3.0 Dungeons and Dragons book that mentions a point at which a Paladin's special warhorse realizes that it has a higher intelligence than its Paladin. I'm now trying to imagine the ways that horse could engage in swordplay with a sword properly attached to its armor :smalltongue:

He just straps the thing to his forehead. Fun fact: Unicorns don't exist, they're just paladin warhorses that got tired of their owners' ****.

oudeis
2014-02-11, 07:01 PM
In the mid-to-late 1500s, Japanese armories were manufacturing tanegashima (matchlocks) well ahead of any Western power in both quantity and quality. No offense, but this sounds like a nascent 'Japanese Muskets are Underpowered in D20' meme in the making. Sources?


This discussion reminded me of this passage from the Civil War novel The Killer Angels:

The land was long ridges, with streams down in the dark hollows. Dismounted, along a ridge, with all night to dig in, the boys could hold for a while. Good boys. Buford had taught them to fight dismounted, the way they did out west, and the hell with this Stuart business, this glorious Murat charge. Try that against an Indian, that glorious charge, saber a-shining, and he’d drop behind a rock or a stump and shoot your glorious head off as you went by No, Buford had reformed his boys. He had thrown away the silly sabers and the damned dragoon pistols and given them the new repeating carbines, and though there were only 2,500 of them they could dig in behind a fence and hold anybody for a while.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-11, 07:11 PM
It's not even that exotic - there were a huge number of Chinese immigrants in the western U.S. during the relevant time periods, particularly during the railroad booms. This is practically expected, really.
That's why I mentioned it, but, thematically, some GM might be opposed.

GungHo
2014-02-12, 10:40 AM
No offense, but this sounds like a nascent 'Japanese Muskets are Underpowered in D20' meme in the making. Sources?


This discussion reminded me of this passage from the Civil War novel The Killer Angels:

I don't care about memes or muskets in D20 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tanegashima_(Japanese_matchlock)). You can preview the book (http://books.google.com/books?id=4Ete0zPAnjwC&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=true) on Google. I'm not buying it for you, though (http://www.amazon.com/Giving-Up-Gun-Reversion-1543-1879/dp/0879237732/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1392219599&sr=8-1&keywords=giving+up+the+gun).

Tiki Snakes
2014-02-12, 11:23 AM
Because a pistol only needs one hand and you like to get up-close and personal where they won't expect you?

Sebastrd
2014-02-12, 01:26 PM
Extremely early development of Kevlar?

If bullet resistant armor is pretty common, swords are more useful. Shooting someone in the head is a lot harder than the Walking Dead tv series makes it seem.

neonchameleon
2014-02-12, 02:08 PM
Tueller's Drill (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tueller_Drill). A modern pistol needs at least 20 feet to be as good as a knife head to head. See Mythbusters on the subject (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ckz7EmDxhtU#t=26).

Eric Tolle
2014-02-12, 02:33 PM
A dueling culture such as existed in parts of Europe might encourage sword wedding and use. You could also get a contest between thchargee sword-welding dandies and lower-class gun and knife weilders.

Though not swords, bayonets are basically short spears and
Modern militaries still give training in their use. The last successful bayonette charge happened only a couple years ago.

Finally, if you consider machetes to be a type of sword, machetes have been used quite recently as a military and terror weapon.

Mighty_Chicken
2014-02-12, 03:48 PM
Are we talking "real" west western, or fantasy pastiche western? Because the latter gives you more leeway.

Zorro was a good suggestion: you can have the essence of the western-type setting without Sixguns and Winchesters. However, a classic Cowboy setting really needs those revolvers.

Or contrast all of this with Argentinian Gaucho culture, which trades out the sixgun fetish for knife-nut tendencies (seriously, they carry the equivalent of a kitchen knife block, each with specific use, including the big-ass "knife fight" knife). And bolas, which are always fun. Spread the idea of honor/dueling being a hand-to-hand affair, with firearms being more of a hunting and war tool, toss in some other cool weapon options, and there you go.

Well no wonder he carries a knife.

(It's my favorite western.)


The Brazilian novel Um certo Capitão Rodrigo has an epic gaucho honor duel. It has been enacted in Brazilian television and movies many times. This is the only versionI could find in youtube: http://youtu.be/okNuWgHNQ0s?t=8m55s

Besides knives, they also use cloth as bucklers. Cool fight, but the 2013 version is much better.

By the way, in the first scene of this very movie, we have a field war where cannons are used only twice; the rest is all about swords and pikes. That's in the 1800's.

Seems to me a gun-abundant 19th century is an all-American thing?

Mark Hall
2014-02-12, 04:50 PM
And, depending on how married you are to a Western, there's the reasons for it given in Dune and Fading Suns... shields make gunplay of limited use.

Knaight
2014-02-12, 05:07 PM
Extremely early development of Kevlar?


This is iffy for a few reasons, starting with the implications involved. If Kevlar's developed, it pretty strongly suggests a fair amount of technology. For one thing, it implies that oil is fairly available and mined in a decent quantity (though if it's not being burned for combustion the quantity can be far lower than modern real world oil per population). It implies the existence of fairly sophisticated industrial weaving, beyond the looms at the time. Worst of all though, it implies that polymerization is decently understood. In short, if Kevlar is around plastic in general is likely around. That said, an oil boom that emerged due to the discovery of near modern chemical synthesis in polymer chem could work to replace a gold boom, so it's a functional fantasy kevlar.


That's why I mentioned it, but, thematically, some GM might be opposed.
True, though pointing out the presence of a Chinese immigrant in a John Wayne movie (true grit) could probably help with that. Plus, the building of the railways is a fairly interesting bit of history, and a western setting where a sword makes a lot of expense. Bullets and the like are expensive on railway wages (mostly because the workers were exploited to hell and back and everything was expensive on railway wages), and if a fight broke out engagement ranges could easily be pretty close.

Eric Tolle
2014-02-12, 07:13 PM
I just assume they got the Kevlar from the space aliens.

Also, swords are much better at piercing dinosaur hide.

What, you don't have space aliens and dinosaurs in your Western? What kind of a Western are you running anyway?

Mr. Mask
2014-02-12, 07:31 PM
Silk makes a fine replacement for kevlar. It's pretty expensive to make a silk bullet proof vest though.

Ravens_cry
2014-02-12, 08:00 PM
True, though pointing out the presence of a Chinese immigrant in a John Wayne movie (true grit) could probably help with that. Plus, the building of the railways is a fairly interesting bit of history, and a western setting where a sword makes a lot of expense. Bullets and the like are expensive on railway wages (mostly because the workers were exploited to hell and back and everything was expensive on railway wages), and if a fight broke out engagement ranges could easily be pretty close.
It'd also make for a, dare I say it, grittier western, as it was a pretty grim time for those labourers.

Mr Beer
2014-02-12, 09:13 PM
Enemies that aren't vulnerable to bullets but are to swords is a common way of making swords popular. I don't know how gritty you intend this to be but it's easy to justify something like a zombie shrugging off bullet wounds but being incapacitated by sword strikes.

Worgwood
2014-02-12, 09:27 PM
You don't necessarily need kevlar to defeat firearms. "Advances in modern metallurgy allows construction of of a breastplate which can deflect bullets" or something would also work in that regard without sounding too modern. Or if you're in a higher-magic setting you could have your character (or his/her enemies, to better justify the sword) using a magic item that intercepts objects of a certain size or objects travelling at a certain velocity - namely bullets. Basically a personal shield.

Another thing now that I think about it is that even with the invention of repeating rifles, single-shot rifles were still used a fair bit by some military forces, as they were easier and I think(?) cheaper to make, and prevented an infantryman from using all his ammunition in the first volley. So once a mook has fired once, he might be stuck needing to reload.

Alternatively, if your character is just fighting crooks and bandits, they might not even be able to afford guns or ammunition for all of them. The town they've chosen to terrorize might not even have a gunsmith. Which is as much reason for you to use a sword as them.

Knaight
2014-02-13, 01:25 AM
It'd also make for a, dare I say it, grittier western, as it was a pretty grim time for those labourers.

It would be pretty easy for it to end up downright bleak. It wasn't a good time in the area for much of anybody outside of a few extremely wealthy merchants, industrialists, and aristocrats. Below that on the totem pole gets bad quickly, and the immigrant labor on the railroads are pretty near the base of the pole - along with large swaths of the indigenous populations, who got pushed on hard by the industrialists involved in the railways.

GungHo
2014-02-13, 10:23 AM
Seems to me a gun-abundant 19th century is an all-American thing?
Australia also had fairly significant private firearm ownership at the time, as they were undergoing the same basic cycle of rapid expansion and indigenous displacement at the time. "Gun-abundant" is a loaded term, though. People didn't really run around with guns on their hips like they do in movies any more than everyone would run around with a sword in Medieval/Rennaisance Europe like they do in D&D. Entertainment takes a lot of liberties.

Beleriphon
2014-02-13, 10:48 AM
Australia also had fairly significant private firearm ownership at the time, as they were undergoing the same basic cycle of rapid expansion and indigenous displacement at the time. "Gun-abundant" is a loaded term, though. People didn't really run around with guns on their hips like they do in movies any more than everyone would run around with a sword in Medieval/Rennaisance Europe like they do in D&D. Entertainment takes a lot of liberties.

No, but everybody traveling any significant distance probably had a least one rifle. It was probably just to hunt for food, but nearly every family on the western frontier would own at least one rifle or shotgun of some kind (possibly very old technology depending on where and when).

I think you might also be underestimating how violent the American frontier was during the mid to late 19th, especially after the American Civil War. The gunfight in a street at high noon was not common, but there really were dozens of shootouts between civilians or civilians and the local authorities. This is a time period where stealing cows would get you hanged after all. This was at some level driven by new gun technologies being invented to the fact that companies like Remington, Winchester and Smith and Wesson sold in some cases hundred of thousands of firearms between the American Civil War and the turn of the century.

If you want a reasonable view of the western frontier then the Magnificent Seven is pretty good. A whole town has to hire a half dozen guys to help defend them because they don't have any s

Sebastrd
2014-02-13, 11:01 AM
This is iffy for a few reasons, starting with the implications involved. If Kevlar's developed, it pretty strongly suggests a fair amount of technology. For one thing, it implies that oil is fairly available and mined in a decent quantity (though if it's not being burned for combustion the quantity can be far lower than modern real world oil per population). It implies the existence of fairly sophisticated industrial weaving, beyond the looms at the time. Worst of all though, it implies that polymerization is decently understood. In short, if Kevlar is around plastic in general is likely around. That said, an oil boom that emerged due to the discovery of near modern chemical synthesis in polymer chem could work to replace a gold boom, so it's a functional fantasy kevlar.

Not necessarily. A common trope in fantasy settings is the fantasy world grown over the post-apocalyptic remains of a more advanced civilization. It would mesh well with the concept of a western/fantasy setting and provide a convenient excuse for things like firearms and Kevlar in a low-technology world. It would also provide a great excuse for limiting ammunition and provide another reason for swords to be commonly used.

Threadnaught
2014-02-13, 12:22 PM
Kusagari, Red Steel 2.

Wild west Samurai Gunslinger.

Beleriphon
2014-02-13, 12:28 PM
Kusagari, Red Steel 2.

Wild west Samurai Gunslinger.

Red Steel 2 is a fun game, although the guns are way more useful than the sword for the most part. I think in a game that focuses on sword play with guns on the side that makes the gun more useful says something about the sword in a gun fight.

BWR
2014-02-13, 12:53 PM
All the excuse you need, (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfTWYP4bE28) barring Zorro.

Drascin
2014-02-13, 01:01 PM
This reminds me vaguely of some 3.0 Dungeons and Dragons book that mentions a point at which a Paladin's special warhorse realizes that it has a higher intelligence than its Paladin. I'm now trying to imagine the ways that horse could engage in swordplay with a sword properly attached to its armor :smalltongue:


The warhorse could use a mouthpick weapon. It's from Lords of Madness according to the internet and it allows any weapon so imbued to be used by a creature with a bite attack. Like a warhorse (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/horse.htm).

I think I saw that in a movie once (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-3K-uU9TL0) :smallamused:

Knaight
2014-02-13, 01:43 PM
Not necessarily. A common trope in fantasy settings is the fantasy world grown over the post-apocalyptic remains of a more advanced civilization. It would mesh well with the concept of a western/fantasy setting and provide a convenient excuse for things like firearms and Kevlar in a low-technology world. It would also provide a great excuse for limiting ammunition and provide another reason for swords to be commonly used.
However, under those circumstances Kevlar would likely be extremely rare, which takes out the whole sword use reason (unless you're assassinating rail barons or something).


I think you might also be underestimating how violent the American frontier was during the mid to late 19th, especially after the American Civil War. The gunfight in a street at high noon was not common, but there really were dozens of shootouts between civilians or civilians and the local authorities.
The gunfight in a street at high noon was so rare because the vast majority of "gunfights" involved someone shooting someone else in the back.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-13, 03:04 PM
Depends how rare. If it's too common, then people will just use body armour and guns, then start working on making guns which render the body armour ineffective. If it's rare enough, guns to counter it will be rarer, and you could still get a sort of knight class who use it. Though honestly, there isn't much reason to use only swords.

Sebastrd
2014-02-13, 03:28 PM
If it's too common, then people will just use body armour and guns, then start working on making guns which render the body armour ineffective.

I don't see why that would be a concern. Campaign settings are typically technologically stagnant.

I was envisioning more of a scenario wherein guns and body armor are common. However, because ammunition is scarce and nigh irreplaceable, body armor and swords supplemented by occasional gunfire is the norm.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-13, 03:37 PM
Well, if you can just go with the tech being stagnant, you can use any tech. No matter how good the best tech is if your manufacturing isn't good enough to get it to everyone due to stagnant tech people will still use the other stuff.


If bullets can be justified as scarce and swords and body armour not, that works fine.

Knaight
2014-02-13, 03:44 PM
I don't see why that would be a concern. Campaign settings are typically technologically stagnant.

Fantasy campaign settings are, sure. A western is based in a period largely defined by changing, with technology being a part of that. Campaigns are often short enough that it might as well be, most of the time (a few years isn't enough for sweeping technological changes most of the time), but that doesn't necessarily apply to the setting.

Beleriphon
2014-02-13, 04:56 PM
Fantasy campaign settings are, sure. A western is based in a period largely defined by changing, with technology being a part of that. Campaigns are often short enough that it might as well be, most of the time (a few years isn't enough for sweeping technological changes most of the time), but that doesn't necessarily apply to the setting.

By the time most westerns are set the different between cowboys and soldiers during WW1 is a matter of the number of fully automatic weapons rather than their existence. The idea of powered aircraft was alive and well in the 1880s and so were ideas about gasoline powered engines. The big difference was a matter of availability and affordability. By 1860 gasoline powered internal combustion engines had been created, although they weren't quite at the point where they could be used to power a vehicle. Heck the first long distance travel via car was in 1888 for around 104 km.

Joe the Rat
2014-02-13, 06:38 PM
They played with the changing of technology (and the dying of the Old West) in Big Jake. Motorcycle, early Automatic pistol... and a seriously PO'd grandpa.


Scarcity and economics is always an option - ammunition aside, reliable repeater firearms may be too expensive to be worthwhile. If you don't do standardization of parts (good luck explaining that lack of insight), firearms are unique, and breakages require a full-on gunsmith to rebuild to the exacting specifications... or simply have to accept costly replacement.

TheThan
2014-02-14, 02:57 AM
Alan. Bourdillion. Traherne.

:smallbiggrin:
No wonder why he carries a knife.

(El Dorado is my favorite john Wayne western). :smallbiggrin:


You know,
I’d go mountain man, Native American or or even Pioneer and wield a tomahawk and bowie knife instead of a sword.

Living_Dead_Guy
2014-02-14, 07:02 AM
The first idea that came to me is playing a Chinese man who is working on the Transcontinental Railroad. The sword he uses is a family heirloom that has to be kept hidden until he can make his escape.

Yora
2014-02-14, 09:12 AM
FTFY. The reason Japan still used swords was because the samurai looked at guns, looked at their thousand years' worth of suddenly-obsolete sword technique, and responded by outlawing the guns.
It's a bit more complex. Samurai warriors (not all warriors were samurai, not all samurai were warriors) did have swords very early on, these never were their primary weapons for battle. Bows, Spears, and later guns were the main weapons, but a sword was nice to have as a backup in an emergency, or something that you can carry with you all the time. A sword was fancy and they trained a great deal with them, but soldiers almost always go with whatever improves their chance to survive and if you had to use a sword, it meant things didn't go as planned.

As someone mentioned before, someone with a blade in hand can hit someone with a gun before the a shot is fired if he can get close enough, but even then there is the whole issue of "stopping power". Getting a bullet into your enemy doesn't usually instantly kill him. And even five may not do the job. And when that happens, you don't want to reload your revolver while brawling with a guy who's trying to stab you. And making a mostly uninformed guess, in a brawl it should be much easier to keep a gun from being pointed at you, then keeping a small to mid-sized blade from cutting you.
That's why you find swords in cavalry and on ships at rather late dates, because these people are relatively likely to end up in close combat. Either by cavalry charges or boarding actions. The typical infantrymen would fight in formations in big open fields and relatively unlikely to get close enough to any enemy to use a blade (bayonets were a compromise, since that's probably a lot easier than producing huge amounts of swords and training people in fencing).

Swords in a western-ish setting aren't that implausible.

Mr. Mask
2014-02-14, 09:30 AM
The question is which contexts you wish swords to be used within the setting.

Do you want people wandering around town and into bars with swords instead of revolvers sometimes?

Do you want to have times where a character can charge across the open, their body armour absorbing pistol fire till they're close enough to cut their enemies down?

Do you want the faction(s) who prefer swords to guns as their first weapon?

Do you want one style to be superior to the other, such as an elite class who can afford guns while others mostly can't?