Swordidly   12 comments

I used to sign my letters that way, pun intended.  Swordidly, sordidly, with sword in hand, I’m a dirty guy.  heh.  I don’t do that any more.

I’m always happy when I finish a book.  Today I finished The Book of Swords by Hank Reinhardt.  I never knew Hank.  I doubt if we would have gotten along.  But this little book about weapons and armor has been my main reading for the last week or so.  The man spent his life learning about handheld weapons of war.  Don’t know if he ever played a rpg like Dungeons and Dragons–doesn’t matter.  His knowledge of the physics and reality of edged weapons is valuable information for any gamer, especially for any gamer who wants to be the Game Master, the dungeon digger, the campaign planner.

I’ve been reading about fantasy combat all my life.  When I was younger–in my 20s and 30s–I practised it a little.  I learned to fence in high school–self taught, but still the essentials.  My old gang, Bear Peters, Liz Danforth, Dan Carver and I had a summer when we met on Sundays to fence.  It was fun.  Those were the days.  Even before that I was a member of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism).  I was never any good, but I know what it feels like to wear armor, to have a pot helm obscuring your vision, to hold that sword ready for a cut, to pivot the shield down to cover your leg, to raise it to protect your head.  I did these things–sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  I write fantasy fiction, and I like to think I write good fight scenes–the kind of fight scenes that most women writers can never do–simply because they don’t have the experience.  I took archery for a couple of semesters in college.  I know what it feels like to draw a bow.  I know how hard it is to hold it until the target is centered, to simply let the fingers relax and have the bowstring speed the arrow on its way.  The slightest twitch moves the bow.  Moving the bow misses the target.  And I mention all this because it is something I had in common with (the now deceased) Hank Reinhardt.

You don’t really get to know things by reading about them.  You get to know things by doing them, by living them.  But, reading can give you an acquaintance with things–things like swords, man to man combat, the nature and function of armor.  If you read THE BOOK OF SWORDS  by Hank Reinhardt, Baen, 2009, you too will get acquainted with these warriors’ weapons.  If you don’t care about such things, by all means avoid this book.  It is really only for those who love the weapons themselves.

Remember I said that books like this help a game master, or game designer.  I’m currently working on the chaotic 8th edition of Tunnels and Trolls–that will probably be the last one I do.  Reading this book I saw the names and descriptions of weapons I had never heard of.  I learned more about weapons than I knew before.  One thing that bothers me about T & T in its current form is that the weapons tables are full of all these things with European names.  Tunnels and Trolls is not meant to replicate old France or Rome.  It is meant to be its own place, it’s own world.  Calling swords epees and rapiers sound more like musketeer France than a new reality.  Hank’s book is full of sword names that I’ve never heard before.  And if I’ve never heard of them, you probably haven’t either.  Look for the swords in the next edition of T & T to have names like the nimcha, the flissa, the quaddara, the kopesh, the falcata, the kora.  The other thing is, I believe the weapons will be more differentiated by the Kindreds that use them.  For example, I renamed the Viking spike shield to the Dwarven spike shield.  Dwarves are the perfect kindred to wield big round shields with a metal boss and a point in the center.  I’ve already given the uruks the urukish scimitar.  But, uruks would love the kora–a very distinctive and vicious sword that is even better for them than the scimitar.  Ogres would be great for using the shamshir.  Trollish war hammers just sound especially nasty.  Reading the BOOK OF THE SWORD crystallized a half-formed intention I had for making T & T weapons more colorful and interesting–just watch me do it when the Chaotic 8th edition comes out. 

Also read this last week:

Justice League of America #36, in its new, weaker form, without many of the big guns like Superman and Batman, [Batman Bruce Wayne is dead, although how long he will stay dead remains to be seen.  Superman is off on counter-Earth, New Krypton, trying to make a go of things in a truly Kryptonian society.] vs. the Royal Flush gang, and

Conan the Cimmerian #13, finishing the comic version of Black Colossus.  This may have been Robert E. Howard’s best Conan story ever–the quintessence of swords and sorcery, beautifully adapted by Dark Horse comics.  Get it, read it, enjoy it.  Conan doesn’t get any better than this.


Posted August 23, 2009 by atroll in Uncategorized

12 responses to “Swordidly

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  1. Thrilled to read that about the 8th edition weapons, Ken.
    –Eight-armed Chaotic 8th edition.

    Do you have an editor chosen already?

  2. Absolutely!

    I called your house, to your wife’s dismay, and you quickly gave me your mailing address after a brief convo.
    –I had written a polyhedral Sci-Fi T&T game, entitled > ugh! < Lasers & Lightspeed and promptly shipped it off to you.

    I received a nice and encouraging letter in response which confirmed my innermost desire to work in the gaming field.

    I owe it all to you, Ken. 😀

  3. Looking forward to seeing weapons geared towards specific kindreds, Ken! Will you be doing any sort of kindred-specific spells, too?

  4. I like the extra touches to the kindreds’ cultures with the weapons, but perhaps a sourcebook would be a better place for that type of discussion instead of the rules book. If you kept the notes about the weapons brief and pretty unexplained that would stick with the spirit though.

  5. You mention the “old gang” whose names are found in the credits of the original T&T stuff. It makes me wonder how it all came about. Have you ever written a retrospective on the early days? I’ve heard a couple of stories about the genesis of T&T but a longer reminiscence would be interesting.

    • Such a “how it all began” story is never likely to happen. It was a long long time ago, and memories of what actually happened are shaky at best.

  6. That sounds awesome 🙂 I love the idea of using oddly named weapons to invoke a flavor of strangeness and uniqueness and otherworldlyness in the T&T setting. I must say, I’m eagerly awaiting 8th edition!

    Also- how can one get into the making supplements for T&T game? I want to create a huge, manic underground library as dungeon setting and publish it with Jessup Games- how would I go about this?

  7. Didn’t know you were working on 8e. Guess if I were a regular at Trollhalla I’d already know…. Have fun with the khopesh etc.! D&D had that one for a while–I remember playing a fighter and wanted to make him unique, so I gave him a sword with a name I couldn’t pronounce and built his persona around it. I sort of remember it as a desert nomad’s curved sword.

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