First of all, my wife is the one who introduced me to this movie that we own, watched once, and I still can’t remember. One of those really corny fantasy ones that involved finding a special weapon to save the world. That’s why I’m bringing it up now in a post about unique weapons. In Legends of Windemere, I only have Kira and her kusari-gama and Lord Highrider with his giant maul. Yet, there is a long tradition of bizarre weapons in fiction. Some of them truly exist like the previous example and others are entirely made up like the glaive above.
The most important thing to consider when creating or choosing a unique weapon is how it functions. You have categories like range, melee, blunt, edged, piercing, slashing, heavy, light, and even the materials. Weapons don’t have to stay in one category either. For example, take Kira Grasdon’s kusari-gama:
- There’s a little range due to the length of the change, but it is predominantly a melee weapon.
- One end is a club that gives her a blunt attack.
- The weapon is fairly light in weight and designed for speed, which makes it built more for speed.
- The chain can wrap around her around to give her a defensive shift.
- The sickle side can be swung at various lengths for lashing.
That’s a lot in one weapon, but that’s what happens when you work with something beyond the basics. Yet, even a sword can have more than piercing/slashing if you remember that the flat side or hilt can be used for a blunt attack. As you can imagine, this also means the character needs to be trained unless you attempt a prodigy, which increases the chance of criticism. People don’t always like a character that is a natural at something, especially when it turns out to be an odd weapon. Something beyond the standard swords, axes, and spears are hard to wrap one’s head around in terms of simplicity. This is why you would also need to consider the tactics that stem from using such a weapon. Although, one way around this is to go for a minimalist action method instead of describing more than stab, block, and hit.
No matter what, this requires a lot of research and thinking on the part of the author. For many warriors, the weapon is what determines everything else. Their armor needs to give them enough movement and flexibility to wield their weapon effectively. Strategies require an understanding of strengths and weaknesses. A great way to understand this is by comparing Luke Callindor with his sabers to Timoran Wrath with his great axe. Both have minimal or no armor because one works with speed and the other requires a greater range of motion than he would get with platemail. So, even their similarity stems from a crucial difference. Luke will dart around a battlefield looking for openings while Timoran is more inclined to use his strength for a frontal assault. These changes are fairly normal weapons too, so you can easily see how something more complicated would force various changes.
There are two ways to do research here and it really depends on the type of unique weapon that you choose:
- If it’s a weapon that actually exists then you can easily find resources such as videos and written explanations. I’ve found that YouTube is a greater tool here because seeing it gives a better idea than reading about it.
- If this is a weapon that doesn’t really exist then you need to sit back and imagine how it would work. One method is pretending to fight in slow motion against imaginary opponents to get a ‘feel’ for the weapon. You might also be able to find a real world equivalent by considering those previously mentioned categories. As nice as it is to be free with this, there is a higher risk of confusing the reader since they need you to explain the weapon more than if it was something they were familiar with.
Personally, I like the traditional weapons and the more unique real world ones. Yet, there are times I like making alterations and designing something special. The best example now is in War of Nytefall where Clyde occasionally uses a serrated sword connected to a gauntlet that fuses to his flesh. It also vibrates quickly to give a ‘chainsaw’ effect. I still haven’t settled on the full name of it. Right now, it’s being called a Gauntlet Sword and it really only works for someone like him. Kind of like a slashing and piercing weapon that is used almost like a fist at times.
So, what are some of the oddest weapons that you’ve seen in fiction?