Why is the sword so over represented in fantasy? That goes to the symbolic power of the weapon as well as the social factors of the medieval period. War is the game of kings, and the sword is the weapon of the king, being the most difficult weapon to produce reliably. Creating the long, thin metal blade was quite an accomplishment in a time that lacked things like nickel steel, or the bessemer process blast furnace. Swords were deadly, expensive and as much symbols of nobility and the right to rule as gold, fealty, and the entire feudal system. Across the world, the daisho, or katana and wakazashi worn by samurai were the official symbol of being a noble/samurai. To be caught wearing the daisho without permission was penalized by death. It was perfectly permissable for most commoners to weild the wakazashi and smaller tanto since these were multi-use serving as much as tools as weapons in times of war. The sword is a weapon only, and to use it as a tool is demeaning.
Legendary swords - Caliburn, later renamed Excaliber, Damocles, the sword of god, Durandahl, the sword of Roland.
Other legendary weapons - ????
The blunt weapons, such as the mace, hammer, pick, flail, and other pole arms were the weaponry of the commoner, as these invariably had labor uses and indeed evolved from these purposes. What self respecting lord is going to ride into battle swinging the weapon of the commoner levies? These weapons were popular among the commoners as they were rather cheap, and easy to produce. All had wooden handles, and the amount of metal used was limited, and there was nothing to compare to the 24-36 plus inches of steel in a sword.
The sword is a phallic symbol, and that is all I am going to say about that.
Clerics and maces is a footprint of dungeons and dragons, where the clerical caste was limited from using swords since most swords dealt more damage than other weapons, and this would have rendered the fighter class pointless. Historical clerics had no qualms about using bladed weapons, indeed Archbishop Turpin from the Song of Roland believed that taking up the sword against the Saracen enemy was doing the work of God. As for the not drawing blood arguement against swords, is the slash from a sword so much more offensive that crushing someone's head in a spray of arterial gore with a mace?
The Arms Race
In the late medieval period and early renaissance, the sword began to see less and less action, and the plebian weapons of the mace, and hammer became more common, in parallel to the use of the arquebus and the brace of pistols. This was due to improvements in armor design and manufacture. A sword does little damage against a steel plate, no matter how sharp it is. These crushing weapons became almost mandatory to defeat a well armored foe, though the sword itself never fully fell from use.
Disagree? What is the ceremonial weapon of the USMC? In an age of laser guided munitions and armor defeating smart weapons, it is a sabre. Go to Comment
There is alot to take in here, and without the tables from the base article alot of relevant information isn't as obvious. After reading it, I feel the urge to post some answers and rebuttals.
Why does man continue to fight when the track record of obtaining desired results is so poor?
War is a gamble, while the odds of winning a war you start are less than 50%, those are still better odds than winning the lottery or gambling on a horse race. People still do both. Also, with disinformation and optomism, no one starts a war thinking that they will loose it. I would think this a measure of nationalistic arrogance.
Why is there a constant level of warfare - is it that the opportunities are constrained, or is it that the ability to sustain fighting is constrained, or is a combination of both?
Why do wars cease before issues are resolved and are then resumed after a period of time?
Loosing is a major reason for a war ending before the issues are resolved. WWII followed WWI, stemming from the conditions that lead to the first war and the reparitions that followed it. The second reason is confusing symptoms with issues, some wars are ended once basic objectives are handled or deemed unable to be achieved. The First Gulf War ended when Kuwait was liberated from Iraqi control. The symptom was cured, but the main issue remain, IE Saddam in power. A hot issue can be cooled for a while, but until it is decisively dealt with (resolved or destroyed) it will come back like a horror movie slasher.
Why does the West fight twice as often as Islam and fights a fixed but small percentage of its wars against Islam?
The West fights twice as many wars because the West comes from a tradition of colonialism (look at the wars fought by the west in the 19th century, and remember that the west was most likely the British Empire). This has later translated into the west and the UN adopting a Police of the World attitude. Islam fights fewer wars because Islam isnt a colonial power, and commands a smaller amount of the world's resources and combat capability.
Some other issues:
Modern wars have increased in numbers, but in most part have decreased in scale. Mechanization and specialization have allowed a smaller number of men to do the same fighting of what used to take a larger number. Mobility has replaced in large extend massive defences. In WWI, 4,355,000 Americans fought in the trenches. The Vietnam conflict was fought by just over half a million American soldiers. Compare that to the current war in Iraq and the 'troop surge' that boosted numbers there to 120,000. Go to Comment
There is a plant called the Buffalo Gourd that grows in the southwest. During times of plenty, the native indian tribes would use the gourd to make soap, and when times were lean they would eat it. This is what the dog pod reminded me of. Go to Comment
As a group, they have the power to travel the 'verse but instead of becoming a major power like the merchants and lenders of Venice, they relegate themselves to running odds and ends to the odds and ends of the 'verse? That just seems like a convenient way to supply people with things they should be cut off from. Quantum Leap or Sliders would have been a lot less interesting if they could just pick up any old thing from the merchant's shop.
Your reply makes more sense than your submission, perhaps if the two were put together it would make more sense, plus with KH's comment I got hung up on the image of a convenience store clerk in a medieval knick-knackery with locals looking at batteries and beer coozies. Go to Comment
I am of two minds on this creature. On one hand, I like the creative and colorful write-up of the creature. On the other, it is neither fey, nor hound-like. I imagined something a little more fairie-fey, and less of a worghound. A solid creature, good for almost any setting. Go to Comment
Ah, the unexpected consequence of animal transmutation. For some reason, I can see some peoples, especially the more poor sort having recipes for catching and eating gar-monkey. I like the imagry, but I also love the flying monkies from the Wizard of Oz. Go to Comment
Well, I have heard that turtle has something like seven different kinds of meat, since eating turtles is a bit of a popular thing in rural Tennessee. Seeing as the biggest turtle I have seen around here is about a one to one and a half pounder that seems like too much work. Now seeing that karnan is a bit larger, I could very well see some people going out to gig themselves a few karns for dinner. Go to Comment
I think the idea has some potential, but Moon has pointed out the main issues. What if the mega bat was no longer a flier, and instead stalked like a mountain lion, and used it's webspitting as an ambush hunting technique