Sunday, March 17, 2013

On my obsession with things

Because I am a bit of a wanker I mentioned these weapons in my last post, knowing full well that both of the people who look at my blog probably have had better things to do than accrue such knowledge.

This is a wurfkreuz. Anyone who has every tried their hand at throwing an axe would know that a significant percentage of the time they just bump their handles into whatever unsuspecting tree or work colleague you throw them at. You've actually got to space yourself away from the target a specific distance to allow for one or more spins of the weapon so that the blade is just coming round when it meets the target. Not so with a wurfkreuz, these babies are designed to bite satisyingly every time they're thrown. I imagine them as being perfect assasination weapons, like the shuriken to which they are analogous, but still capable of standing up to melee in a pinch.

Unlike the wurfkreuz which is an antique, this hurlbat is a modern reproduction but it closely emulates its historical predecessors. I guess it is essentially the same weapon, just handier for splitting firewood. There are a wide variety of African weapons with similar qualities but a more fiendishly imaginative outlandish quality about them.

The Bohemian earspoon is infamous from its passing mention in one of the sacred texts of the Gygaxian Canon and is like the morning star, goedentag and holy water sprinkler, an unpleasant weapons with a jolly ironical name. Really it's just a winged spear, one of the more basic polearms and related to the ranseur/spetum family. But I cannot deny the pleasure of saying earspoon. Incidentally it's like the Lochaber axe and Lucerne hammer in having a real-world geographic reference as part of its name which I would drop but replace with something more fantasticated.

I loves me a good Doloire, also called a waggoner's axe. It's more a utilitarian thing than a dedicated battle-axe. I was an enthusastic axe wielder as a re-enactor and my axes were always tiny little things, which was historically accurate (look up this climate-change denying, bad cardigan wearing, but reasonably astute otherwise prat on youtube for independent confirmation). But the Doloire was a big scary chunkily useful chomper used when absolutely necessary. And it is a thing of such profound rugged beauty I cannot help but want one.

As is often the case with historical reality, similar business ends are applied to different lengths of wood for different purposes. The doloire seems to have found use as an axe with a very short handle and as a big long polearm-y thing.

Here's a Pole or Lithuanian at Grunwald murderizing Teutonic Knights.

Old matey in the green tabard's in some strife

Anyway, the point to all this, other that to ogle voyeuristically at objects designed to deprive people of life and bodily function, is to begin to demonstrate the vast range of objects in the category of things which can be in your D&D game, and especially to investigate the possibility that there might be things around more engaging to the senses and to the imagination than magic swords of generic conventionality. I would be very interested to see more varied equipment lists and more varied accoutrements in rpg illustrations.


  1. Nice pics. Would that d&d would have done for visual representations.

    Oh, and welcome back to the blogosphere!

  2. Thanks, Dr Trey. Always with the kind words :)

  3. I'm reading, man! Glad to see you back!

  4. If my players don't immediately want to use wurfkreuz I'm going to have people throw them at them until they do.
    I like a fair measure of simplicity with the way weapons work in-game with just a little differentiation between major types of weapons, but I think having exotic, or just outright obscure bits of equipment show up instead of +1 swords is a great idea.
    Also the picture of the Crakie Bugge from the last post fills me with gee. His little ruffle.

  5. I had no idea the West had throwing star equivalents. Very groovy.

  6. Logan: there are a lot more funky things out there in terms of weaponry. I am interested in the huge range of things which might fall within each weapon type category. Those guys who for centuries lived or died by the quality of their weapons and the skill with which they used them dedicated absolutely all their intelligence and creativity to making awesome stuff that worked. Some of it perhaps didn't work so well but that's interesting too.

    The transition from mundane weapon to +1 weapon to slightly better but still fairly bland special magic weapon lacks something. I think a more comprehensive tour of a more interesting equipment list might be more fun.

  7. Generally I prefer to keep weapon choices simple (oh you want a medium axe? Okay it does d8 damage because it's medium and minimum half damage to leather or less because it's a fucking axe) because otherwise it's easy to get waylaid by choice and minutiae.
    Actually come to think of it D&D With Pornstars had a post called When Is Hairsplitting Worth It? that was pretty much about this.
    It's fascinating learning about the myriad things people came up with, but for game use I'd focus on the aesthetic side of it. If you tell me someone's running at me with an earspoon instead of a spear that's all I need, your work is done, it doesn't need a bonus to disemboweling.
    Me, I'd love a visual equipment list for variety of imagination, but with actual mechanical differences reserved only for truly remarkable pieces.
    My short search for more information about the wurfkreuz somehow ended up yielding a shield with an attached gauntlet, sword blade, several sword catchers, and a lantern. That's going in a file for later.

    By the by I never would have guessed we live in the same state (I'm in Newcastle).

  8. I'm in Murwillumbah now, which in the local Bundjalung language means "a place where some people live" which is still fairly accurate, I guess.

    I've just mentioned that exact same artifact in the next post, I reckon that even back in the day they thought that was completely fucking ridiculous.

    As to mechanical distinctions, I reckon I'm possibly even more rules-light than you but I think there might be some way to make some objects distinct and desirable. I haven't decided on what form those distinctions might take.

  9. Haha yeah I saw that, I'd been reading that same My Armoury page.
    I think items even just having more than one purpose makes them pretty desirable when you're lugging them around everywhere.

    I grew up in Bulahdelah, which apparently means "great rock" or something, but at a population of 1500 you've got a few more people living in your place.

  10. Hi,
    I have almost exactly the same one as the middle one of dolores, the long one. If you are interested i could sell it to you
    Borowit Piekutowski