Thursday, May 23, 2013

Knives and Swords: A Visual History

I was in Barnes and Noble last week waiting for the girlfriend to get off work. In the bargain book section, I happen to see this puppy. It's a little over priced I felt but what the hell. Looking up the picture online, I see it's 10% off the price I paid in the store. That pretty much insures I'll never buy another book in the store without doing a look up online first and getting the better price. Gee, I wonder why B&N could be having problems? Could it be selling products through your own damn store online cheaper than in the store? Nah.

Anyway, the book doesn't really start off with knives and swords, but talks about things in historic context. One of the things it shows are some of the weapons the royalty of Egypt might have used, like a dagger with a gold blade and scabbard with a hilt made of blue lapis lazuli. More impressive than that though, was as axe with the center part semi-hollow depicting a warrior on horseback design. It mentioned that axes were often the weapons of the nobility and the richer the person, the more decorative, more design oriented, more lavish, the weapons.

The fact that we're talking about axes here, as opposed to swords, reminded me of an anime I had seen a while ago in that the main character there was a wielder of a spear. In her country, the spear was the top weapon while in the country she was travelling in, it might not necessarily have been a peasant weapon but close enough.

When looking at the different parts of your campaign world, what does the weapon of choice say about the culture? What does it say about the metallurgy skills present? What does it say about the quality of the iron and steel?

While I haven't gone into detail in Knives and Swords, the visuals are nice and the writing, while I'm not sure of it's accuracy, did get me thinking of the value of weapons to culture in terms of status symbols again so that was well worth looking into.