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90 Draenei Paladin
Massively enjoying reading this thread!
If you are still taking suggestions, Kamazhi, I would love to learn more about the different layers of plate armor/arming doublets, and the process of putting the armor on, and how much of it needs to be done with assistance. But don't worry about it if you are very busy!
Edited by Bärnaby on 10/9/2012 6:24 PM PDT
Massively enjoying reading this thread!
Sure thing! I'll be adding more details on plate soon.
Right now, priority list is: Crossbows and Longbows, Greatswords, Plate Armor.
I expect all three within a week. I'd like to have them up faster, but, XCOM.
CROSSBOWS COME TOMORROW, I PROMISE. BOWS NOW!
Inspiared by early slings and other primitive throwing enhancements, the bow was the first true full-sized projectile weapon. Known for their deadliness and range, bows were also incredibly technical and difficult to master weapons, requiring decades of experience to truly master. As the old saying went, "to train a longbowman, start with his grandfather."
Originating about ten thousand years ago in northern Germany, bows quickly became a critical aspect of warfare. Though many kinds of bows were developed - which I'll cover shortly - the weapon has changed remarkably little over the millennia, a testament to the the sheer efficiency of the weapon.
Now, there's a few kinds of bows, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Unlike most weapons, bows are also made up of multiple independent parts - in this case the bow itself and the arrow - which have to be taken into consideration. Here's a bit of information about each main type.
Longbows are large personal bows, often the same height as the wielder. In effect, a longbow trades convenience and ease of use for range and power above all else. These bows can be obnoxiously large and difficult to draw, but are also extremely durable. They rarely break and can endure a lot of strain, typically being made out of very stiff, strong woods. Longbows required immense strength and training to wield. To use the biggest bows with the heaviest draw that could knock a hole in plate armour (especially later armour that was specially designed to deflect blows away from the body with angled surfaces) required years and years of training, to the point that historians often find skeletons of archers that are actually deformed by the way their muscles adapted to the weapon.
As with all weapons, posture is important. To fire a longbow, an archer starts slightly bent forward with the arm holding the bow stretched out. Then, using the shoulder and back muscles, they draw the bow, tilt it upward, and pull the string at the same time until it's prepared to fire.
Recurve bows are smaller, but proportionately stronger, allowing the same draw power as a conventional longbow while not being nearly as large. These allow similar firepower to a longbow, while being smaller and lighter, making them better-suited to horseback, all-terrain (such as forest and brush), and high-mobility. There is, of course, a tradeoff: the high tension of recurve bows means that the wood is strained immensely, making them risk breaking if the recurve is too heavy (think of it like a guitar string being tuned too tightly). Even when strung properly, the wood requires constant maintenance to ensure proper effect. The 'Reflex' bow is an even higher variance of this, requiring excellent workmanship to handle the immense difficulty of crafting the weapon. While smaller and more mobile than a longbow, they also have comparable or sometimes even greater draw weight, making them extremely difficult to fire. The reward, of course, is raw power, capable of punching pretty easily even through plate.
Edited by Kamazhi on 10/14/2012 7:07 PM PDT
Composite recurve bows are a blend of the previous two types, which use a mix of stronger and more flexible woods as a compromise between the recurve's size and the conventional bow's strength. These are very versatile weapons, limited more by expense than anything else: the techniques used to laminate and blend the materials can be prohibitive in cost. They're not quite as powerful as a longbow, nor quite as small as a recurve, but they offer a bit of both worlds.
But what's a bow without arrows?
Arrows vary -greatly- in size, from about a foot and a half to five feet long. Smaller arrows are lighter, and fly much farther, making them great for bombardment or sniping, but they lack the penetrative power and concussive force of longer ones.
The stiffness of an arrow shaft has a profound effect on where it excels. The higher-draw the bow [ie the more powerful it is], the stiffer the shaft needs to be. Shortbows can have flexible arrows that are very easy to make, but more powerful bows need strong arrows that can be more expensive and difficult to craft.
Bodkin points are your standard, easily produced arrowhead. They're not terribly sharp, but are fairly heavy. They are capable of penetrating chainmail, but have little effect on plate and lack the sharpness to really punch deeply into armor unless attached to a stiff shaft.
Broadheads, as the name implies, are wide-headed, very sharp arrows designed to maximum killing power. They sever blood vessels easily and bury themselves deeply into targets, as well as providing serious damage on removal. They can be rather expensive.
In addition to these two arrowheads, blunt, rounded heads can be used as non-lethal or concussive projectiles, typically with a weaker-draw bow.
Fletching is the addition made to the back of an arrow. Often created from feathers, they stabilize arrow flight by creating a bit of drag. Whether or not you fletch an arrow can be a difficult decision; a non-fletched arrow flies faster and farther, but you compromise accuracy. Typically, a higher-draw, stronger bow can get away with non-fletched arrows, as the projectile is moving too quickly to veer much.
DID HE FINALLY DO CROSSBOWS?
HE FINALLY DID CROSSBOWS. LAZY TIME'S OVER, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.
While the bow was the primary choice of many armies, it wasn't the only ranged weapon stirring up medieval combat. Created in ancient China and rapidly spreading throughout the world, the crossbow was a surprisingly advanced weapon for its time. Sporting complex trigger mechanisms and the ability to fire volleys at a high rate of fire if engineered correctly, this ingenious weapon filled a different niche than its more traditional cousin.
Crossbows are made up of many parts, being a good deal more complex than a standard bow. The weapon is made up of a bow mounted on a stock, with a mechanism that holds the drawn bowstring. The 'nut' is a cylindrical slot that holds the bolt, and due to its' low draw length, the crossbow has a higher draw weight than standard bows, resulting in the use of stronger bowstrings (such as whipcord, sinew, and hemp) and thicker wood (like ash or yew). Because of this, while lighter crossbows can be drawn by hand, heavier ones require the aid of mechanical devices. The simplest version of these are hooks attached to belts that draw the lever; more complex versions work as cord-and-pulley devices called 'windlasses' that serve as cranks.
Crossbows have a greater effective power than bows, but a slower firing rate and general clumsiness . Because of their mechanical draw and heavy bolts, a crossbow can deal penetration similar to a longbow, but the weight of the bolts makes them sometimes difficult to measure an accurate shot with, and crossbows have only 60% the firing rate of a conventional longbow.
Like bows, crossbows come in a few varieties, such as recurve, compound, pistol, and repeating.
Recurve crossbows have tips that face away from the archer, resulting in a longer draw length. The advantage to this is less shock to the hands due to lower draw weight and greater projectile acceleration, but the downside is a greater strain on the weapon.
Compound crossbows are a more modern weapon, with extremely stiff limbs resulting in extreme projectile power. However, due to this, they are far too difficult to be drawn by hand, and require a complex windlass in order to be usable.
The smallest crossbows, pistol crossbows, could be fired with one hand and held under the arm effectively.
The repeating crossbow, as the name implies, has a faster rate of fire than other crossbows. By mechanizing and automating the separate actions of stringing the bow, placing the projectile, and shooting, the weapon can be fired with one hand, allowing the other to hold it in place for aiming instead of changing bolts and reloading. This results in a greater rate of fire, but the bolts by necessity are smaller and therefore less impactful than heavier ones.
Crossbows fire bolts, which are shorter, but much heavier than arrows, with a higher density. The average crossbow bolt could penetrate chainmail with relative ease, lacking fletching due to the projectiles' high weight and rapid velocity. Some crossbows were even modified or created to fire stones or exploding grenades. With their flexible design, almost anything can be launched from these versatile weapons.
All in all, the crossbow is a viable alternative to the longbow, if one considers the advantages and disadvantages. With greater power, but lower speed, it's an excellent weapon for those who truly wish to make every shot count.
Edited by Kamazhi on 10/26/2012 6:19 AM PDT
It's difficult to think of any weapon as misrepresented and misunderstood as the greatsword. Though it is regarded in most fiction as cumbersome and slow, this couldn't be further from the truth. This powerful blade not only has the reach and strength usually credited to it, but also a remarkable agility and tactical flexibility. Those who underestimate the sheer skillful potential and technical flexibility of this potent weapon often find themselves overwhelmed and soundly beaten.
Greatswords – also known as Zweihänders, Bidenhänders or Bihänders – originated from bastard swords and other larger blades in the 14th century as a response to the prevalence of plated armor. Designed to employ the reach of a polearm with the flexibility of a sword, these massive blades were surprisingly lightweight, weighing in at about seven pounds at their standard length of five to six feet long.
Despite their size, greatswords are fast, highly technical weapons for quite a few reasons. The first is that the length of their hilt allows them to be wielded comfortably in two hands, with room to adjust the grip on the fly. This allows the blade to be surprisingly dexterous, capable of changing direction quickly and switching between slashes, chops, and thrusts as needed.
The second reason is in large part due to the addition of a ricasso on the blade. Ricassos are portions of a sword, usually about a quarter-length of the blade from the base, which are dulled and thickened to serve as a grip when needed. By grabbing the ricasso, the wielder is able to fortify their guard, alternate between grips that are more suited to swings or thrusts, and even invert the sword entirely to swing it pommel-first.
Why would someone want to do that? Because it leads me to my third point: The whole reason that Zweihanders were created in response to plate armor is because their reach and weight allowed them to club heavily armored targets into submission, even if the blade itself couldn’t penetrate. While this worked moderately well even blade side up, if one inverted the sword and held it –by- the ricasso and upper part of the blade, they could execute a ‘Mordhau’ strike, which is when one would use the heavy pommel of the blade to smash the armor of a target. They were surprisingly potent when used this way, capable of severely wounding someone through a plate helmet, or breaking bones in the arms and other lightly plated areas. As a result, greatswords were powerful weapons against almost any opponent.
Of course, they weren’t without downsides. The first is the same that any large weapon faces: they were too long to be used well in close quarters, making them ‘battlefield swords’ pretty much exclusively. Secondly, while they were MUCH faster than they’re often portrayed, they were still slower than dedicated polearms [at least for thrusting] like the spear, meaning one had to chop or smash their way past an opponent’s guard. However, they were quite proficient at this, with greatswords often being used to counter pikemen, so don’t let this one deter you too much. Finally, greatswords take up to five seconds to draw. Because they’re mounted on the back, and can’t be sheathed [by virtue of them being so long you’d have no way to pull it out], one is forced to tie them and undo the knot each time. Of course, you can always just carry it about on your shoulder like a halberd, which many warriors did.
All in all, the greatsword is a fearsome and often underrated weapon. Any warrior, especially those with eyes for the battlefield and open war, should strongly consider adding these versatile weapons to their arsenal.
Edited by Kamazhi on 11/20/2012 10:45 PM PST
Thanks for the kind words, guys! I'm going to try and update more frequently, so if anyone has requests, please feel free to make them. Next up is advanced plate armor information, then I'm completely free to do whatever's requested!
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