Tag Archives: knights

Zombie apocalypse and swords

1 Jan

So I’ve been watching the Walking Dead episodes and rediscovering my love for the zombie genre, but one thing has always bugged me in every zombie movie: Why not swords? Now I know, I know, the films are always about the average person using mundane things found around the house to defend themselves from the hordes of zombies, but they rely so heavily on guns that always run out of ammo at the critical moment.

We have been killing one another for millennia, yet it is only recently that we have started using guns. There are plenty of other ways to kill someone without using a gun. You see melee in zombie movies quite frequently, but it is usually with some object not designed for that purpose, like a baseball bat or the lid of a toilet.

Ideally, if you were going to engage in melee combat with zombies, would it not be wise to use am instrument perfected for the task? An instrument that was at its height right before firearms made it obsolete?

It never runs out of ammo and can remove zombie heads and limbs with ease. Much faster and less unwieldy than a fire ax, and guaranteed to get the job done the first time, unlike a baseball bat that might require a second swing.

I know, I know, not many people have longswords just lying around the house, hence why they don’t show up in zombie movies.

“But GP! Melee is a last resort because that means the zombie horde is on top of you! You need to keep your distance! It doesn’t matter if you have a sword and they swarm you from all sides, you’ll still get bitten!”

True, but that’s why if you have the sword, you should also have the second bit of the equation:

Again, not your average household item, but man would you be set if you had it. (Mine’s not as shiny or nice looking as this one, but it would do the job) The human mouth cannot bite through steel. Zombies also wouldn’t have the fine motor skills needed to undo the straps. While it’s best not to get completely swamped by the horde, wearing a suit of armor would make you a walking tank. Wrap yourself up in some plastic trash bags underneath to prevent the infected blood from seeping in and oozing on you and you’re good to go.

I know this is just begging to get some nerd hatemail, but their is no way the zombies could hurt you if you were wearing a suit of armor. Deal with it. And don’t even bring up the idea that it would make it too hard for you to move or escape because that just shows how little you know about armor. I can move perfectly fine in mine. I can run, roll, fall down and get back up in a heartbeak; so no, it would not be a problem.

I would love to see a zombie movie where somebody in the full gear just waded through the horde in the street. They’re zombies, soft flesh and bone, not rhinoceri. It would be a piece of cake, though probably not as entertaining or heart-pounding as a bunch of people trying to defend themselves from zombies with the useless crap they found in the mall.

The downside to being accurate

14 Jan

When does being as historically accurate as possible become a negative in living history? I think it’s a grey area between not having fun, and hampering your interactions with the public.

I love the middle ages, and I love being in a late medieval living history group, but the big downside to doing the middle ages is the social structure. When the group members are hanging out, not doing an event, we’re all equal, tax paying adults, yet the situation changes when we’re at an event.

As it is in most living history groups (I’d guess) the people with the most money and stuff are at the top of the group, and everyone else falls down below to make up the pyramid.  (Reenacting wise, not talking about group politics) This pyramid then comprises the rigid medieval social structure.

I’m a jobless college student, who can barely afford the gas it costs to get to an event, so needless to say I’m towards the bottom of this social structure. I have an ok archer kit, but it’s not the $10,000 + suits of armor 3 other guys in the group have. As such, they’re the “gentlemen” and I’m a mere yeoman. I have to serve them at the table. They get to wear nice clothes, eat fancy food, and tell me what to do around camp.

While it’s ok, it’s not nearly as much fun as it would to be one of those gentlemen, dressed head to toe in steel, the stars of the show. The sad thing is, I know how much fun it is, I did 100 years war living history with another group for 6 years before my current one where I had my own suit of armor. I got to dress up and be the badass one, running around doing demonstrations, pretending to be a statue just to scare little kids, etc… It was amazing! But now I’m just an archer. My lower standing in the camp is historically accurate. I can afford less stuff, and so the people who have more stuff order me around.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still really fun to dress up and stand around in camp. My favorite part is acting as camp sentry, that way I get to put on some armor, wield a big pole ax, and look intimidating.

As for hampering your ability to talk to the public, I think there is some point when being perfectly accurate is ridiculous. If I wanted to really show how a yeoman plucked from the 15th century would act if suddenly dropped in a 21st century event I’d be running around freaking out and killing people because he wouldn’t know what was going on.

But that’s an extreme example. How about this one, I can’t see shit. I wear glasses normally, I can read things up close fine, but get more than 6 feet away and you become blurry. (Not much of an archer am I? ~_^) I just recently got contact lenses. For the first time in 9 years I will actually be able to see at an event! But then, contact lenses aren’t historically accurate. Should I not wear them despite the fact that nobody can tell and I’d be having trouble getting around camp?

What about deodorant? This is one I’ve often thought about. Should I not wear deodorant? Even if it’s unscented? Am I trying to replicate an authentic smell of a lower class medieval yeomen archer, who’s in the field on campaign? How do I even explain that to the public? “Hi,….. don’t walk away! I smell like shit for a reason!” Erm…yeah….

Should I stay in character, try to fake an accent? Speak in middle English or Latin? How will the public understand me then? They won’t learn anything. I also can’t scream at the women in camp, or hit them, even though a male in the middle ages probably would have gotten away with that no sweat. (Not that I’d want to)

While I do think trying to being as historically accurate as possible is a good thing, there are limits. Lets face it. Life back then sucked. People got sick, died, were underfed and over worked. You were trapped in an extremely rigid social class while the people at the top milked you for all your worth. History is often romanticised by the movies and in books, when in reality it was hell.

Reenactors are in the wonderful position of being able to dress up, go play, and come home to a hot shower, tv, Nyquil, and the Bill of Rights. I guess that’s what makes the past fun. The fact that you can go and experience it, but in the back of your mind you know that if anything goes wrong, you have the safety net of modern society to catch you.

No, anime swordsmanship stuff is bull….

10 Jan

After watching some anime stuff with my friends, I just couldn’t stand listening to all the Japanese swordsmanship bull that gets spewed….Allow me to let of some medieval European steam…All this “well I use (insert obscure important sounding fighting style here)!” and “This sword has special powers!” crap is driving me nuts. People are absolutely crazy for samurai stuff. This brings up the age old geek debate “Which is better? A knight or a Samurai?” Let me preface this by saying that this debate is fundamentally absurd; a knight of the 15th century would never run into a Samurai of the 14th. And then there is the fact that in hand to hand combat, it’s not the weapons or the armor, it’s the skill of the fighter.

That noted, assume in some nonexistent plane a knight at the peak of medieval weapon and armor development (right before gunpowder made them obsolete) meet at samurai at their peak, and that they were both equally good fighters. Contrary to what many of my Japanese obsessed friends think, the knight would totally kick the Samurai’s ass.

Look at the equipment. The knight, in full plate armor, would be covered head to toe in steel, with chainmaile covering any gaps, and then an arming doublet of some kind under it. The samurai would have on his bamboo and cloth armor with little bits of metal here and there. Bamboo and cloth…. Many people who have no experience with plate armor try to make the claim “well, the knight is slower and can’t move as well as the samurai.” Bullshit. You can move very well in full plate. I KNOW. And yes, if you get pushed over you can hop right back up. (Well, maybe not some of my older living history friends ~_^)

As for the swords, the longsword is far superior to the katana. The knight has a better striking range than the samurai, and the big advantage of TWO edges to the sword. The katana only has one edge. With the two edges, the knight has a whole range of cuts he can preform that the samurai cannot. After a swing in one direction, to cut back the same way, the samurai must rotate his sword around and swing again, the knight can just cut straight back, no rotating required.

The katana also doesn’t have a substantial guard (the cross piece where the blade meets the hilt). There is almost nothing to keep the knight’s sword from sliding down the blade onto the samurai’s hands. The knight however has a nice big guard which he can use to catch and block the samurai’s cuts. The samurai also doesn’t have a pommel with witch to utilize the back of the sword, the knight does, which means he can whip the sword around and bash the samurai in the face if they closed.

The katana also has no chance of cutting through the knight’s armor. I don’t care how sharp it is, in real life it can’t cut through steel. The thrusting point is also inferior to that of a longsword’s, which could easily pierce through bamboo and cloth. Again, this whole debate is absurd however since the two developed in different cultures and the samurai’s weapons were not designed to come up against something like a knight in full plate.

Furthermore, it drives me nuts how they practically worship the sword. It’s a piece of steel. Hunks of atoms assembled (assembled masterfully albeit) , and there is nothing “magical” about it. There is also no magical ancient spirit that protects the fighters or enhances their attacks. (WWII proved that)  It just drives me nuts how my friends just gobbled down this BS. Maybe they are just better at suspending disbelief….