Signature Weapons: Almost as Important as a Name?

Simon Belmont

Simon Belmont and his whip.  King Arthur and Excalibur.  Doom and the BFG 9000.  Samus Aran and the Power Suit.  All of these are characters that can be identified by their weapons.  You see them holding it or not even their whole body, but you just know who is holding it.  I’m sure everyone can think of one right away even they don’t watch or read a lot of action stories.

I think the concept of a weapon or item that identifies a character has been around longer than fiction.  Mythology is filled with it like Zeus’s lightning bolt and Perseus’s shield.  If I mentioned the jawbone of an ass, you would think of Samson.  Although, I guess it doesn’t work if you don’t know the story.  So, the exposure of these objects don’t come immediately, but they do become universal among fans and as the story itself becomes more popular.  This is also why you might see people use ancient weapons in newer stories.  Pull out Excalibur or Gungnir and you get some attention right away.  Readers will expect great things from whoever holds these famous weapons.  They will even expect those characters to reveal themselves to be connected to the original owners, which is a downside to using an established signature weapon.

As a fantasy author, I think a lot about the weapons that my characters wield because it’s a core part of their existence.  Even the lack of a weapon can be an identifier like with Dariana and Gregorio.  One fights with her fists and the other doesn’t fight at all.  Yet, most of my characters do have the signature weapon.  I didn’t even realize I did this until I wrote Clyde, which I’ll admit is a bit silly.  Considering I had Luke Callindor with his sabers since Beginning of a Hero, one would assume I’d already thought long and hard about this subject.  A reason I didn’t is because this felt like a natural part of character creation.  As I said, these weapons are a part of their core, so it was on the same level as eye and hair color.

The reason I began thinking about this is because I ran into a big problem with Clyde’s signature weapon.  Originally, this was a chainsaw that had various incarnations.  One was enchanted by a mage to have a fire blade and fit in his pocket.  Another connected to his wrist and was powered by his blood.  Then there was the regular one that he had strapped to his hip like a sword.  All these were fun to think about when it came to fight scenes, but I had a problem once I moved Clyde to Windemere.  That would be the existence of a chainsaw making absolutely no sense.  Gnomes could have made it, but technology hadn’t come far enough along for the time period I put War of Nytefall in.  The idea that anyone would make this thing for a single vampire was ridiculous too and I didn’t see the species carrying them around.  For one thing, why wouldn’t you see chainsaws in other societies since a mortal would have found one at some point?  Sadly, this meant things were looking bleak for the signature weapon.

The answer was one of these babies:

Tooth Sword

I forgot how I stumbled onto these weapons, but they’re swords and clubs that are edged with shark teeth.  This gave me the idea of a metal sword that had teeth and I mimicked the chainsaw motion with a vibration spell.  To make it more unique, I attached it to a gauntlet that has needles inside.  They drink Clyde’s blood to power the magic and he wields it similar to a gauntlet dagger.  Given his strength, I could make it fairly large and storage ended up by an enchanted pocket that can only hold the weapon.  This is why I consider this the toughest signature weapon that I’ve had to make so far.

In comparison, Ichabod Brooks using a longbow came out of nowhere.  I gave him one in his first story along with daggers, but it wasn’t going to be his main weapon until I gave him a second adventure.  I noticed how often he used the longbow and it just stuck, but would have a variety of ammunition and enchantments.  Too bad they can’t all be that easy.

So, what are some of your favorite signature weapons?  Have you ever made one in your stories?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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29 Responses to Signature Weapons: Almost as Important as a Name?

  1. I have, but I haven’t gone so far as the “named” weapons. There are a couple of instances in my stories where a specific weapon was made for the sole use of the character. In every case they were guns of one kind or another.

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    • I haven’t done a lot of named weapons. It’s been more a specific type that ends of being a ‘symbol’ for that character. We’re the guns real types or fictional versions?

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      • Lisa’s BAG is more realistic, but it has to pair with a thread in her hands and nobody else can shoot it. The others had paranormal powers. Gina’s blunderbuss tends to evaporate those from beyond the veil. Lizzie’s Colt Pythons work like real pistols, but if you happen to be a monster, they have special abilities. In Panama, it was a regular pistol, but a deal made at the crossroads gave the marshal a special ability. It was more like paying a debt to the man at the crossroads.

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      • All sound pretty interesting and unique. What’s the thread do for Lisa?

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      • This is the slice of reality. It’s possible to place a microchip into someone’s palm that mates with a weapon. It renders the weapon useless for anyone who does not have the chip. I just projected out and turned the chip into a programmable thread. She has one in each hand.

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      • Kind of like the fingerprint thing I’ve seen mentioned a few times. Seems guns in future fiction have a lot of personalization methods.

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      • Some of that is available now. There is even a chip to lock your house and such. This is kind of the idea behind my Grinders story if I ever get there.

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  2. The Aztecs (if I remember correctly) also had something similar to the sharktooth sword, but using flakes/shards of obsidian.

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  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Charles Yallowitz on writing Fantasy, and in particular making sure that you hero has a signature weapon… such as King Arthur with Excalibur… something perhaps that can be expanded to any hero fantasy or otherwise.. such as Sherlock Holmes and his deerstalker.. head over and read and I am sure it will trigger off some ideas.

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  4. L. Marie says:

    This is a really good topic! I think of James Bond’s Walther PPK, Hawkeye’s or Green Arrow’s bow, and Aragorn’s Anduril. In Black Panther, I loved Okoye’s spear.

    I’d love to come up with a signature weapon for a character. I tend to go with crossbows, throwing knives, or daggers in stories. None use swords, because I don’t know that much about swords, though I like many of the iconic swords in fantasy books.

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  5. That tooth sword gave me the willies just looking at it. Well done, Charles

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  6. I’d have to say that my favorite sword would be the Sword of Truth from Legend of the Seeker.
    Interesting backstory about how you created Clyde’s sword.
    What do you think about characters who seldom use the same sword? Or carry several around with them somehow?

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    • I think it depends on the character. It doesn’t hurt to carry more than one weapon like Sari and her knives. What do you mean by seldom using the same sword? A weapon master is possible if you can explain their training and skills.

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      • I was just wondering if there were any heroes that ever carried several swords or just happened to find a new sword whenever they went into battle. I know it’s an odd question. Maybe I’m thinking more along the lines of some games…

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      • Technically, Luke carries two swords and I have a few Dawn Fangs that dual wield. Not much in the weapon grabbing during battle though. If you mean item drops then that’s definitely more video game than book. Chances of finding a better weapon aren’t nearly as good as Final Fantasy makes us think.

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  7. Reblogged this on DSM Publications and commented:
    Check out this informative post from the Legends of Windemere blog on signature weapons and why they are are almost as important as a name.

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  8. Just to prove your point, I looked at your image above and thought, “Who is this guy and what did he do to Catwoman?”

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