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Re: (TFT) Reality vs. Game Mechanics
I wouldn't say better. Weapons get designed for the style of fighting
they're expected to be used in.
For example, an ax has most of the weight out at one end. This makes it
easier to chop with. Not as much talked about is that that also makes
it easier to do a static block with (because it moves the center of
percussion). That really just means that it's harder to move the blade
out of the way when you whack at it with your weapon.
Chopping swords, like the falchion, also have the weight out near the
point to add oomph to a cutting blow.
As the center of mass gets closer to the hand, that oomph is lessened,
but the ability to move the point gets easier. For example, the modern
foil has a center of mass practically inside the hand that holds it,
which makes its tip highly maneuverable.
But in most cases the center of balance of rapiers and non-rapiers
seems to be about a hand's width in front of the guard (that data comes
from recalling a tabel fo data from a friend in Texas who's a lot more
into rapiers than I am), which is also about where the balance falls
with the period weapons I have handled, backed up by those few studies
on that sort of measurement. I think center of mass is also one of the
suggested measurements that the Oakeshott likes.
I think that with the longer blade, the heavier hilt counterbalances
the extra length. Compared to other single-handed swords, the rapiers
do tend to be narrower and longer.
It's hard to say better. We know that period fencing manuals do have
cuts in them. We also know that some of the masters didn't like to do
them, preferring the thrust as the faster attack. Certainly, having the
balance near the hand makes the tip more maneuverable, but if it gets
too close it's too easy for the other guy to move your point around.
I'll also note that there are examples from history where men are
encouraged to leave their rapiers at home in time of war, and to bring
along more suitable weapons (for Silver, that was the backsword). The
rapier was definitely a civil weapon, and for unarmoured combat, a
weapon with a more maneuverable tip works better because the human body
cuts very easily. Even when armour was in fashion in the early 15th
century, the sword for two hands that Fiore teaches had begun to taper
considerably more than previously. The reasons for this are twofold:
first, the sword really doesn't cut plate. Fiore himself bemoans the
fact that the rich guys he was teaching didn't learn to parry because
their armour could take the punishment. So in armoured combat, you're
using the sword more as a pointed crowbar than a cutting weapons, using
the point to do injury between the armour plates and such. The second
is that in unarmoured combat, a more maneuverable blade is useful
because you don't need to hit a human very hard with a sword to cut
him. In this, Fiore describes different systems of techniques for
fighting in armour or out of armour. But according to him, they're all
based in wrestling anyway.
Quoting Joey Beutel <email@example.com>:
Ah, the hilt.... just the blade, I'd imagine them to be rather similar
by length (every sword is different in exact measurements, of course).
But I suppose the hilt would cause a big difference... and wouldn't
that affect the center of balance, and the sword's handling? Is a
rapier better in this way?
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