Saturday, January 24, 2015
Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour by Lord Egerton of Tatton
First of all, thanks to those readers of the blog, twitter, and other interactions on social media. This book is a direct result of sales through the Amazon Associate link so I appreciate it!
Second, if you've been reading this blog for a while, you'll know I'm a sucker for books on weapons. Indian weapons don't necessarily get a lot of recognition. They don't have the 'Katana' that is so popular among the second part of this book's title, "Oriental Arms and Armour."
Even in role playing games, there isn't that much in Indian settings. While there are notable exceptions, especially now with an OSR game, Arrows of Idra or the Pathfinder city book Parsantium , the majority of games either focus on pseudo European or pseudo Japan.
Sometimes such references pop up in odd locations. For example, the manga Berserk has several characters that take inspiration from the lands of India including one champion, Silat, that the main character, Guts, keeps running into. Over here on Deviant Art is a good likeness of Silat by 20AznHuskarl20.
Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour is a bit different than I thought it would be. I'm used to the Dover books being fairly inexpensive reproductions of material long since out of print. Which this is. But this is a bit more scholarly than I thought it would be.
For example, "The shield is deemed the only fit salver on which to present gifts, and accordingly, at a Rajput court, shawls, scarves, jewels, are always spread before a guest on bucklers." That's a neat little bit right there and "parallel between the Rajputs and the feudal races of Scandinavia and Germany. In feudal, as in Rajput communities, arms played a conspicuous part in all military pagents, as well as in all the business of life."
There is also a ton of black and white artwork. One of my favorite bits is a picture of different types of swords that includes at least two pata or gauntlet swords.
At 43 years old, I'm old enough to remember a fantasy movie called Willow.
One of the characters from Willow, is a heroic warrior with no peer known as Madmartigan. During a showdown with his opposite, the fierce General Kael, one of the weapons Madmartigan uses in a two sword fashion, is the pata. It's a fantastic scene.
Visually it's an interesting weapon. Different enough from a standard sword to stand out, but still with enough of the form and functionality to be identified quickly.
There are several such weapons throughout the region, several of which, thanks to media, have become well known, like Xena's chakram.
Having an exotic non-standard weapon like this gives characters a bit of difference. It makes them stand out among others who may only be using standard sword and shield.
And it's not necessarily just a visual difference. Where did they find the weapon? Who trained them? Do they know how to get back there? Are there other treasures and bits of information that can be fed into the campaign?
In the Black Company, a fantasy story about mercenaries and their vague origins, the later books, or Books of the South, allow Glen Cook to tell a story focusing on a completely different region with non-standard heroes and villains that still provide a powerful story.
While I'm still reading through Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour, it's so far proven both visually appealing and interesting reading. Its too short to go into much detail on all aspects, but does point out enough interesting bits that where I'm curious I can hit up other sources for further research.
If you want to dip a toe into the exotic world of weapons that go beyond long sword and broad sword, Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour is a solid start.
As a Game Master, have you ever added any such weapons to your own campaign? Back in 'the day', I had a bounty hunter that used to have a special ability to use any weapon he picked up and used that to justify a whole range of odd weapons. It wasn't something that I innately came up with though as I believe I based it off an old Ral Partha miniature, Nimrod the Hunter from their Warlords boxed set.
Nimrod was the one on the left with the shield that has a tri-dagger peaking out of it and the odd shaped sword and no pants.
Anyone use any monsters from these far away places? I was fortunate to be able to back Harwood Hobbies last miniature Kickstarter and one of the pieces you could get is an Avatar of Kali, but some of the assassins from the thugs cult also look great.
It's a wide world out there and having more options can allow for some variety in the stew.
Any other great books or references I'm blatantly missing? Throw a link in!