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Old 02-27-2022, 11:17 AM   #21
Prince Charon
 
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
The grips weren't just riveted, they were also glued. Molloy proved that the combination was functional and perfectly capable of sustained use. I've used these swords and agree with his assessment. GURPS should give them no additional penalties to resist breakage.
OK, this bothers me. Are you saying that the penalty should be below the level of resolution of most GURPS games (which I'm sort of willing to believe if more people agree with you), or are you saying that they resist breakage about as well as tanged blades (which I'm not, because that does not make sense).
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Old 02-27-2022, 04:05 PM   #22
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
How can you tell whether it has a tang if the handle is intact? You don't need to see an intact handle to know it never failed in combat, all you need is a blade with battle damage but no broken rivet holes.
The handle material is likely to be more fragile than thre rivets or the holes.

Am I right to interpret this reply to mean you know of no existing intact examples?

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It doesn't matter whether you doubt it because it has been proven otherwise. I think this is the relevant article: https://www.jstor.org/stable/25684288
It matters to me.
Unfortunately I am not able to access the article to determine whether it answers my doubts.

Thanks.
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Old 02-27-2022, 04:37 PM   #23
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
How can you tell whether it has a tang if the handle is intact? You don't need to see an intact handle to know it never failed in combat, all you need is a blade with battle damage but no broken rivet holes.
There can be design differences. There can be weapons that were partially damaged. If necessarily, there's x-rays.

In any case, it's safe to say that swords with tangs were superior to swords without tangs, because if they weren't superior in some way they wouldn't have become dominant. However, that doesn't mean a solidly attached handle is impossible without a tang, it just means that it's enough extra effort to justify spending the additional metal on making a tang.
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Old 02-27-2022, 07:30 PM   #24
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by Donny Brook View Post
The handle material is likely to be more fragile than thre rivets or the holes.

Am I right to interpret this reply to mean you know of no existing intact examples?
The handle material rarely survives in the ground for three thousand years. It is impossible to know how many were buried with intact handles so you have to look at other aspects, such as the condition of the rivets and the rivet holes.
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Old 03-01-2022, 07:50 AM   #25
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

Speaking of organic material tending not to survive in most found examples, here's a fairly cinematic idea for consideration: Imagine that some (very few) bronze knives and rapiers had wooden or hardened-leather handguards, possibly cup/bowl shaped. We have no evidence of this, of course, and realistically they could have put wear on the blades that would still be detectable, but in even a borderline-cinematic setting, it seems plausible and interesting. My current thought is that if present at all they'd add somewhere between six ounces and one pound of weight, and have fairly low DR, possibly only DR1, but I haven't taken a look at Low-Tech to work out how close my guess is.
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Old 03-01-2022, 08:36 AM   #26
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by Prince Charon View Post
Speaking of organic material tending not to survive in most found examples, here's a fairly cinematic idea for consideration: Imagine that some (very few) bronze knives and rapiers had wooden or hardened-leather handguards, possibly cup/bowl shaped. We have no evidence of this, of course, and realistically they could have put wear on the blades that would still be detectable, but in even a borderline-cinematic setting, it seems plausible and interesting. My current thought is that if present at all they'd add somewhere between six ounces and one pound of weight, and have fairly low DR, possibly only DR1, but I haven't taken a look at Low-Tech to work out how close my guess is.
We have thousands of illustrations of weapons from that time. Find one that looks like one of these handguards.
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Old 03-01-2022, 08:42 PM   #27
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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We have thousands of illustrations of weapons from that time. Find one that looks like one of these handguards.
I would be VERY surprised to find one. That really wasn't what I was asking, and I'm mildly surprised that you thought it was.

EDIT: Like, I literally said 'We have no evidence of this,' and you quoted it. An illustration would arguably be evidence.
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Old 03-02-2022, 01:03 AM   #28
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

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Originally Posted by DanHoward View Post
The handle material rarely survives in the ground for three thousand years. It is impossible to know how many were buried with intact handles so you have to look at other aspects, such as the condition of the rivets and the rivet holes.
I have to go with Dan's expertise here, since he's literally written a book on the subject.

While a 16-19th century style bell handguard is technically possible, it's obvious that the makers of these weapons liked their decorated hilts. The majority of examples you've shown either have gold hilts or gold rivets for attaching a similarly-shaped hilts made from other materials. If a bell hand guard existed there would be rivets or other precious metal fragments to indicate its presence.

Additionally, there were Bronze Age weapons with cutlass-like knuckle guards (e.g., the Kopis/Machiera), but their guards were formed by forging a long "tang" of metal, which extended below the grip, upwards into an elongated loop to create a knuckle guard.

If a smith intended to create a cast and forged weapon with a belled hilt, it would be more logical to start with a cast bronze sword blank with a long piece of metal sticking out from the top of the tang at an 45 degree forward angle (to allow the metal to better flow into the mold) and then forge it backwards to form a guard. The bell would be an integral wider portion of the cast material, made from riveted-on secondary pieces, or made by hammering a portion of the bronze "billet" used to make the hand guard in order to widen it. None of the examples show evidence of these things.

Finally, you have to take period armor and shields into account. IIRC, Mycenaean fighters were likely to use large shields and/or heavy armor panoplies and presumably used weapons optimized to defeat those defenses.

A large shield defense suggests a longish, mostly-thrusting sword, sort of like a precursor to the Gladius, which can poke through gaps in the opponent's defenses while still maintaining your own.

Heavy panoply defense suggests an edged sword similar to an Estoc mostly used to punch through armor gaps, but sharp enough to make draw cuts against unarmored body parts.

Significantly, some of the pictures you've linked to also show chopping shortswords, which were possibly precursors to the Kopis/Machiera. They would work well against "hoplite" type armor consisting of helmet, cuirass, greaves, and large shield, but with enough open spots to make a chopping attack worthwhile. Fighters might choose the "estoc" for foes wearing a panoply, or a "kopis" for foes in lighter armor.

No archeological or artistic evidence shows Bronze Age swords used in a weapon-forward "refused" fencing stance, which negates much of the need for a guard, since the user's weapon hand is only exposed when they strike.

Everything about the design of these "rapiers" suggests that they were mostly used to thrust. The tang doesn't look long enough to be the basis for a good swinging grip and there doesn't appear to be a good place to attach a pommel, which is necessary for a good swinging sword. (If you thrust, your hand will want to ride up on the blade. If you swing, the sword will want to fly forward or outward, so you need a good pommel or equivalent to help keep it in hand. The pommel also acts as a counterweight allowing you to recover from your strike more quickly.)

My instinct is that most of your rapiers have a center of gravity just above the guard and a grip which is optimized for underhand thrusts. If they were used to parry, the defender would take blows on the widest and thickest part of the medial ridge/"fuller" just above the guard. Absent weights or field testing, those are just guesses, however.

In GURPS terms, my best guess is to start with a Broadsword, but reduce damage to sw+0 since the the grip isn't optimized for swinging. Allow it to penetrate armor gaps like an Estoc. Treat it one Quality level better than normal to avoid breakage due to its heavy medial ridge.

Broadsword
TL Name Dmg Reach Parry Cost Wgt ST Notes
1 Mycenaean Rapier thr+2 imp 1 0 $600 3 10 [1, 2, 3]
or sw cut 1 0

[1] Cancels up to -2 in penalties to target armor gaps.
[2] Treat as 1 Quality level better to avoid breakage.
[3] Typically Bronze. No damage bonuses for Fine or better Quality, Treat as one Quality level worse when parrying swung weapons made of superior materials.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 03-02-2022 at 01:07 AM.
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Old 03-02-2022, 01:34 AM   #29
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

Looking at the Lindybeige video, I'd suggest that the "Celtic Rapier" the presenter shows first is a Bronze Long Knife. The Long Rapier presented second is either a Bronze Shortsword or my proposed Mycenaean Rapier. The "dirk" is a Large Stiletto (or Large Knife if it's edged).

The only problem is that weights given are way below typical GURPS weapon weights. The Long Knife length rapier comes in a ~3/4 lb., while the long version comes in at 1.25 lbs. Lengths are otherwise appropriate for the proposed weapon types.

Reduced weight fits well with reduced Swing damage, and would justify minimum ST 8-9 for the long version but increased risk of breakage.

Last edited by Pursuivant; 03-02-2022 at 01:46 AM.
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Old 03-02-2022, 02:53 AM   #30
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Default Re: [Low-Tech] Smallsword with the Bronze Age 'Rapier?'

Here are two Mycenaean seals showing how these swords were used against large shields.

https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Ch5fVCFJl...00/combat.jpeg

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/EUW_-spXkAg7jbX.jpg
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