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 Short sword to be cut out?

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SteveL
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PostSubject: Short sword to be cut out?   Wed Feb 11, 2009 5:49 pm

Other than the Roman gladius and early Medieval transitional swords like the spatha, which wasn't exactly a short sword if Wikipedia is right about its length being as short as 0.75 m (i.e., 2.5'), there didn't seem to be any short swords in pre-modern Europe.

When longer swords are available such as the arming sword (i.e., the "standard" knightly sword), I don't see why anyone would opt for a short sword.

Perhaps the short sword was included in AD&D by Gygax for the benefit of smaller races.

Will anyone mourn its loss in Mailed Fist?
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Jonathan

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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:13 am

Being smaller, it would be easier to conceal, and less of a hinderance to someone who would be, say, climbing a wall. Also, people of short stature (4' or less, say) would certainly have an easier time wielding one than they would a normal longsword. Proportionately, at approximately 3/4 of their height, a longsword would be much like a two-handed sword for these people.
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Bruzynski

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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Sun Feb 15, 2009 2:48 pm

Who knows?

Is there any evidence suggesting that children had small swords made for them? Or perhaps women having swords? Certainly there should be some way to account for a smaller scale weapon if there is a reasonable explanation of why that particular weapon exists.

I do not mourn the loss of the short sword.
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SteveL
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:51 pm

Jonathan wrote:
Being smaller, it would be easier to conceal, and less of a hinderance to someone who would be, say, climbing a wall. Also, people of short stature (4' or less, say) would certainly have an easier time wielding one than they would a normal longsword. Proportionately, at approximately 3/4 of their height, a longsword would be much like a two-handed sword for these people.
I agree that non-human races of smaller stature would have short swords.

I would think a human would conceal a dagger rather than a sword, though there's no reason why specialized weapons couldn't exist for certain purposes.

Maybe I'll leave the sword short in the weapon table for completeness.
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SteveL
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:53 pm

Bruzynski wrote:
[...]

Is there any evidence suggesting that children had small swords made for them?
Not that I know of.

Bruzynski wrote:
[...]

Or perhaps women having swords?
Doubtful, though there is evidence that women Vikings fought in a particular battle (though they were presumably armed as men).

Bruzynski wrote:
[...]

Certainly there should be some way to account for a smaller scale weapon if there is a reasonable explanation of why that particular weapon exists.
Fair point.
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PostSubject: Bastard sword   Fri Feb 20, 2009 3:58 pm

There are few game-stat differences between a bastard sword and a normal (arming) sword. I think I can save the bastard sword by disallowing the use of the arming sword in two hands.

Note:

Melee weapons are designated 1-handed, 2-handed, or optionally 2-handed. Using a 2-handed weapon with 1 hand incurs penalties. Use of a 1-handed weapon in 1 hand is handled normally. Using an optionally 2-handed weapon with 2 hands gives a bonus. This is where the bastard sword comes in (also the battle axe, mace, war hammer, etc.). I figure the grip on the arming sword is too short to be used effectively with 2 hands.
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Sat Feb 21, 2009 5:00 pm

I just happened to be reading a medieval document (English translation, of course) that mentions short swords:

. . . he ordered his household people and all the soldiers coming behind him to carry short swords under their garments. . . . [p. 182]

[Brian Tierney (ed.), The Middle Ages: Volume I: Sources of Medieval Hisory, 4th Ed., Alfred A. Knopf, 1983.]

My guess is that the author is referring to swords of a short length rather than to a distinct weapon type--although the distinction may be less than useful.
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PostSubject: definition   Sun Feb 22, 2009 11:08 am

what do the existing game systems claim the short sword is? I never thought it was a distinct blade but a misc catagory for small weapons neither big swords or knives.

a gladius is definately not in the long or bastard catagory so where does it fit?

The oringinal Dirk(not the current dress knife for scotts) was too long to be considered a dagger ?
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Mon Feb 23, 2009 4:34 pm

kubera wrote:
what do the existing game systems claim the short sword is? I never thought it was a distinct blade but a misc catagory for small weapons neither big swords or knives.

a gladius is definately not in the long or bastard catagory so where does it fit?

The oringinal Dirk(not the current dress knife for scotts) was too long to be considered a dagger ?
I don't know where Gygax got the notion of a short sword. I agree that a dagger or long knife might be the same thing; Daggers are typically for stabbing, but it's a mystery what a "short sword" is intended to do.

The gladius was efficient relative to the equipment and fighting style of the Roman soldier--though later versions were longer.
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:56 pm

I always thought "short sword" was just the amalgamation of all short bladed weapons...
as long as there is a drussus or gladius or wakizashi, i'm fine...
Wink
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:50 am

Maybe a short sword was not meant by Gygax, as others have suggested, to be a specific style of sword, but a catch-all for any culturally abnormal blade too long to be a dagger, but not long enough to be a long sword.

Examples might include the "long daggers" of the Drow (which I *think* were not ever defined), or some sort of parrying weapon. I kinda like the idea of a short sword being used primarily as a second-hand weapon.
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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Sat Jun 13, 2015 11:33 pm

Long knives/aka short swords were actually common as a secondary weapon among bowmen who were forced to defend close up, pikemen locked in a pushing contest with other pikes would sometimes send troops crawling under the pikes to stab at their legs and such with long knives. Chinese butterfly swords even machetes would qualify.   Certainly they would seem deficient as a primary weapon but for concealment, a secondary weapon/tool they are ideal.  one thing we never closely monitor is weight and encumbrance while playing , be it loot, extra armour, 4 weapons plus food, tent, a cast iron kettle.   In a real world situation a secondary weapon that only weights a pound ish is far more realistic than carrying a sword, bow, mace and lance.  I'd suggest that their existence isn't  an issue just their label.

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PostSubject: Re: Short sword to be cut out?   Sun Jun 14, 2015 2:24 am

First, congratulations on resurrecting a six year old thread.  Second, In the 1st ed. PH, the weapons table states "includes all cutting and thrusting weapons with blade length between 15" and 24"", so Gygax was definitely using the category as a catch-all.  That being said a gladius certainly fits the general description of a short sword, so why not keep it in?
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