Thursday, June 11, 2015

10 Medieval Weapons for your next Fantasy Story (that you’ve probably never heard of)

What is it with the ever-so-important sword? Nearly every hero or heroine this side of dragons and wizards owns one (and there’s usually a prophecy or magical spell involved). Let’s face it: the sword has been there and done that. Everyone loves a cool sword… but it’s time we expanded our horizons.

Here are ten, alternative, medieval weapons that your next protagonist can take on their epic journey.

Composed of three weighted balls strung from interconnected chords, the bolas is a Spanish tool used to ensnare fleeing animals. When twirled above the head and thrown, the bolas collides with the animal’s legs, binding and capturing them. However, the bolas also doubles as a weapon, one that if thrown with enough force can break bone and even kill.

While not nearly as mainstream as the sword, the bolas has been featured in several popular franchises. In Mattemeo (part of the Redwall series), the villain, Slagar the Cruel, uses the bolas.

Deriving its name from the Slavic word for “feather” because of its resemblance to a feathered arrow, the Pernach is a Ukrainian weapon that became the dominant mace of its time. Incredibly strong and resilient, the Pernach was able to crush both plate armor and mail, making it a hand-weapon to be feared.

Sword Breaker
While it’s unknown whether a Sword-Breaker could, in fact, snap a sword in two, this type of parrying dagger was none-the-less a unique and ingenious weapon. Small notches, cut into the sides of the blade, allowed for an opponent’s sword to become trapped against the sword-breaker, therefore allowing for a finishing blow or other strike. 

Trident Dagger
Also a member of the parrying dagger family, the Trident Dagger utilized mechanical, as well as technical, prowess. Called the “Triple Dagger” for a reason, this weapon contained two spring-loaded blades which, upon release, stuck out in a “V” shape. This technique was most commonly used during fencing duels, when the trident dagger could easily parry and “capture” an opponent’s rapier between its blades.

Created in India, the chakram is a circular throwing weapon with a sharpened outer edge. With proper training, chakram users are capable of hurling this weapon up to 100 meters or more. In addition to being a throwing weapon, chakrams can also be worn on the arms or around the neck and be used to cut or maim an opponent at close, hand-to-hand combat range.

Fan-favorite character, Axel, from the Kingdom Hearts series, using flame-infused chakrams as his weapon of choice.

Lantern Shield
In its most basic form, the lantern shield was essentially lantern + buckler. The lamps hung from the buckler by a hook and was used to simultaneously defend against, and bright-light blind, opponents. However, at its most complex, Lantern Shields often included infused gauntlets and protruding blades, doubling them at both offensive and defensive weapons. While its practicality in battle is questionable, the lantern shield undoubtedly made for a fearsome weapon, psychologically intimidating opponents.

Military Fork
Much like its cousin, the trident, the Military Fork began as an agricultural tool before evolving into a weapon. Essentially two, sharp prongs on a long pole, the Military Fork was easier to master than the sword, making it ideal for the lesser skilled in combat. While spears were preferred, Military Forks could be used in place of them.

A type of polearm developed by the French, the Vougle was a fearsome weapon comprised of points for stabbing, hooks for snagging, and sharpened edges for cleaving; in fact, it bears a strong likeness to a meat cleaver. Vougles were most commonly used for “hacking” as opposed to cutting, and its design is believed to have inspired the Bayonet in the 19th century.

Morning Star
The morning star has gained renown over the years via several fictional characters, such as the Witch King in The Return of the King. While the most common portrayals of the morning star feature it as a spiked ball chained to a pole, however, many versions of the morning star simply attached the head to the pole itself. In combat, the morning star was capable of severe damage, as both blunt force trauma and puncturing spikes played a part in bringing down a foe.

Bagh Naka
Made famous by Wolverine, the Bagh Naka (or “tiger’s claw”) is brass-knuckle-like weapon that fit over the fingers and can be concealed against the palm, much like the claws of a cat. In hand-to-hand combat, the Bagh Naka was capable of severing both flesh and muscle—a messy weapon, no doubt, but one that was incredibly effective. Some versions of the claws included a top-spike, used for stabbing from the side.

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