Tag Archives: swords

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.

Military Through the Ages, recap

22 Mar

So I’m finally home where I was able to soak in the shower and wash off all the dirt, sweat, and wood smoke smell that accumulated from this past weekend at MTA.

I had an ok time. The best part was getting to hang out with some readers and watch WW2 Germans charge a British Zulu encampment.

As for the rest of the weekend, I had some issues. They are not very coherent, so I will try and put them in bullet points.

  • Egos are really making living history in my group not fun:

I’m not sure how this is in other groups, but it seems that in my group and the other late medieval groups near us that everything is just a giant dick waving contest. The hierarchy in the group seems to be determined by “stuff”. Who has bought the most stuff? Who’s stuff is the best and most expensive? I’m at the bottom of the hierarchy despite being in the group for several years because I don’t have very much “stuff”.

  • My gear is never good enough:

If I make something, it’s rarely ok to use in camp, and everyone else wants to display their things over mine. I often run into the problem of making something under the direction of one of the other members in the group, or buying something, and then soon after I get the item, they decide that it’s not right for the period. This is so frustrating! The only things I can use in the camp tend to be things that other people make for me.

  • I am never physically comfortable:

This has been true of just about every event I’ve gone to, but it was really bad this event. My clothes are horrible. The shirt I have is too big and the pants are too small. It all just ends up being this hot sweaty mess. My feet also end up extremely sore at the end of every event.

  • I never have a space of my own:

In my old group I had my own tent. It was a nice little area where I could set my stuff down and hang out. In the group I’m currently in I have no space of my own. I always have to put my stuff in other people’s tents, and I hate that. (I don’t think they like it either)

  • I always have to borrow:

This ties into space, and my gear never being good enough. I always end up having to borrow items from one person or another. I hate having to borrow from them. I feel it puts me in a position of inferiority, which then ties into the whole “this is all about egos” thing.

  • I am not your servant!:

This is perhaps the biggest bone I have to pick. I might just be paranoid, and this could all just be in my head, but I feel like other people in camp think I’m their to serve them. Yes, I know it’s important to help out in camp, and I do, but I feel people expect me to constantly be doing all the chores while they stand around and talk. For example, I was asked a couple of times to run and fill up the water pitchers. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal, but it was the way I was asked. “Hey, could you run and fill these up?” would be fine, but instead I got the “Since you’re just sitting around, could you go fill the water pitchers?” The tone doesn’t come over in text, but what I’m trying to get across is that in the second way the request was phrased was the hidden assertion that I need to be always doing work. Since I was not doing work at that time, they found some work for me to do in the form of filling the pitchers.

  • No one ever offers to help me setup/take down

For the longest time I’ve always put other people first. I show up as soon as I possibly can, and spend the rest of the daylight helping to put up other people’s tents, and then fill those tents with other people’s stuff. Does anyone offer to help me carry all my stuff in from the car? No. I end up making multiple trips, sometimes in the dark, to get my gear. The same thing happens when the event is over! I try to be one of the last to leave, helping everyone else take down their tents and pack their stuff. Does anyone offer to help carry my stuff back to the car? No. I end up having to do that by myself after I’m already exhausted from helping others. It’s all about them! (The ego and servant stuff ties back in)

  • Paying for food:

I got away with not paying for food this weekend, but in the past I have shelled out $20-30 to help pay for food stuffs. When the meals are cooked the food is just put out on tables for people to pick at. A little here, a little there. I end up feeling guilty about eating and so I buy extra food for myself on top of paying $20-30. If the cost of food was split evenly and everyone got an even split things would be fine, but it ends up that some pay a lot and others pay nothing. Some get a lot to eat, and others eat very little. I often end up in the “paying a lot, eating a little” category. Sure it helps cover the costs for the people who buy the food, but then I feel mooched off of.

  • I don’t feel like I belong

I grew up with my old group. I just joined this group a few years back. All the people in this group have been together for a while. They’re their own little click. They’re nice to me an all, but I just don’t get the feeling that I’m one of them. Most of them are friends outside of the group as well. (Or at least were, there is a lot of political infighting and passive aggressive bullshit going on between all of them now that luckily I’m not a part of) When I sit around the fire with them I’m usually very quiet, I don’t know what to say and I feel a bit like a stranger.

  • Is it worth it?

Well I was sitting there this weekend in the middle of the event and decided to analyze my situation and how I was feeling:

  1. I’m hot, sweaty, and very uncomfortable in shitty clothes that do not fit
  2. I feel like they want me to constantly be serving them while others sit around and do nothing
  3. I have no space of my own and I have to borrow almost everything because my stuff is never good enough
  4. I often end up paying for stuff for others

Basically it’s become a job that I go pay to spend my time at. While I’m there I feel alone, unappreciated, and uncomfortable. Because of this I’ve decided that I’m going to take a break from doing living history.

I think a lot of the problems I have stems from not having enough “stuff”. It’s not that I want to compete in their dick waving contests (I couldn’t care less about that) but it’s that I just do not have the time or money at this point in my life to keep up with the hobby. If I had more of both I could afford clothes that actually fit me and felt great. I could buy my own tent where I could put things. I could get really nice and expensive gear that they couldn’t bitch about. All this would elevate my status in the group and I don’t think they’d be asking me to run around doing bitch work for them while they sit on their beds in their big fancy tents. I don’t want to quit because there are aspects that can still be fun, but I need to step back until I’m on sounder economic footing.

I really miss living history

8 Jan

I first started doing living history when I was 12 years old. I always had the next even marked on my calendar, and was constantly thinking of new things to build for the events. I loved going to our weekly meetings, getting together at friend’s houses and doing crafts nights, and sword practice on Sundays. I had somewhere I felt I belonged.

Well the group I was so fond of growing up fell apart, and some of my treasured bridges burned. I joined a new group that I was ok, but I hadn’t grown up with them. Plus they were mainly based 4 hours away, so I couldn’t go see them regularly. What really put a kink in my hobby was college. I suddenly had almost no time to work on medieval things, let alone the space and money to do so. My re-enacting fell to one event a year, and I lost myself.

I didn’t have sword practice regularly, and so I started to forget. I had my suit of armor, but it stood solemnly collecting dust in my bedroom. I no longer spent evenings in the living room, with a mug of hot chocolate, a fire roaring in the hearth, and my favorite medieval movies on while I sat there and sewed together whatever item I was working on for the upcoming event. That was my childhood, and now it’s really depressing.

I feel like over the years of not really doing anything, I lost a burning passion, a passion that set me apart from other people. I had something I loved and could talk for hours about, but now that’s gone. My girlfriend has a passion like that for gaming, and while I listen intently to her lectures on the subject, and even participate in games with her, that is and always will be her passion, not mine.

I want my passion back. This all peaked my senior year in college. Right before I am to graduate I come to startling realization that I no longer have a passion for anything. I had always wanted to be an archaeologist working in castles. I wanted to find things that re-enactors would then research when trying to create things for their camp. I spent years preparing to pursue that career, worked in internships, field schools, weekends, even traveled to England for a month, only to decide that I had lost my love for it.

Now I’m afraid of becoming just another cog. Another bland slice of bread. Nothing special about me when I put on my dress shirt and tie to go into work.  I really feel I’ve lost something unique and defining about myself. I want it back.

I hope that now I’m going to graduate and get a job, I’ll have some more time, and money for that matter, to pursue my hobby. I want to become more involved in my living history group, perhaps join others as well. I want to go to events more, get more connected. I want to find another western martial arts group to train with, get back in shape. I want the excitement from my childhood back.

Hit points

17 Aug

Hitpoints have always been a curious invention by gaming. I guess the frailty of our bodies is not very fun, and so to make gaming fun, we need to invent hitpoints.

Can you imagine if games were like real life in terms of total damage a body can sustain? You wouldn’t get three feet in a shooter game. The first bullet you took would shatter and shred your internal organs, leading you to bleed out all over the floor while going into shock. Not exactly stuff that would make a game like Gears of War a hit.

Huge battles in RTS games would be over in a few seconds. All your expensive units would die after being hit once, it would suck, but then so does war in real life.

One game that I must point out that does this differently is the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series. In the game you are not a human tank. Bullets will deplete your health much faster, and even after you’ve been hit you will bleed, depleting your health further. While the damage is “more” realistic, it isn’t perfect. A bullet to the stomach would pretty much put you out of action. Still, the game is commendable for going the extra mile.

(Here is a really good and funny video review of it by Zero Punctuation)

What I find really interesting in games is how some weapons do more damage than others. Sure, if you want to talk physics a bullet has more joules behind it than an arrow, but both will still kill you. The total energy is different, but the end result is the same.

Perhaps the idea that some weapons are “superior” to others in games stems from the existence of hitpoints instead of the fact that weapons evolved for efficiency reasons and not because newer ones “killed you more”.

EdgertonBullet

Weapon effectiveness

16 Aug

So today I was playing around with Empire Earth II. I was having a great time and then a swarm of enemy pikemen surrounded one of my tanks and killed it. I was like “Hey…wait a second….” Let me see, how I can best put this? Oh, I know!

tank pwns

I know how the game calculates damage. X unit has Y hitpoints and does Z damage. If enough of unit A gangs up on unit B, then eventually the damage done by unit A is going to deplete unit B’s hitpoints. Simple. Unfortunately, in this case that scenario is totally impossible. A bunch of guys with pikes could never destroy an active tank. Maybe if it was left in a field and they had a few weekends to take the nuts and bolts off, but not if it was manned, moving, and shooting.

Now this is a computer game, and so it’s rather trivial, but it would be nice to make it as realistic as possible. Unfortunately, that would require a lot more code to be written about what the computer should or shouldn’t do when 2 units fight. Production times and costs are already so enormous, this issue will definitely be on the back burner for a long long time.

This is an area where I think table top gaming has an edge over computer gaming. D&D and its many spin offs have AC “armor class”. AC determines if, when attacked, a player takes any damage. The better your armor, the better your AC, and thus the less likely you are to take damage. Now the system is not perfect for every possible weapon/armor combination, but it really helps in trying to make the game more realistic.

You’re not a bad person….

17 Jul

Just a thought I’ve been having lately.

I personally know two people who when I first met them, they were in no way religious. Now both of them are evangelical christians preoccupied with their “unworthiness” and “sin.”

What happened to them? They seemed totally fine on the outside, then out of nowhere they convert. I talked to one of them loosely about this and he said he had no liked who he was in the past, and didn’t realize how much of a sinner he was.

This took me as a shock because the friend I was talking to was a really nice guy. He was extremely popular because of his personality, never drank or smoked, and only had sex with one woman with whom he was in a steady relationship.

The other friend claimed to be Buddhist at the time I met her, though I think she was only saying that because I was Buddhist at the time too, and she also wasn’t particularly religious either. She drank, though not any more than the typical college freshman, and had had sex before, but nothing outrageous. Unlike my earlier friend, she was not very popular. She only hung out with my and another girl at school.

She was a bit strange however. She wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, and she did a lot of awkward things socially, but that was about it. She eventually dropped out of college for a bit, converted, got married, and is now going somewhere else.

These conversions totally took me by surprise. I’m starting to suspect that my two friends are victims of the “you’re a sinner” mentality. Now I don’t know if they are in a full fledged exclusive cult, but convincing a person he or she is damned/a bad person is a universal trait among all cults/religions*.

“You are a sinner and you must except this and repent in order to be saved. The reason bad things are happening to you is because you haven’t accepted (insert deity/religion here) into your life.”

Here is an interesting site that details this tactic, along with many other tactics cults use.

I think it’s pretty sad that my two friends have fallen into this. They are so convinced of their own worthlessness it’s despicable.

You’re not a bad person! There is no heaven or hell, and there was no talking snake with an apple that condemned everyone to eternal fire. By extension there is no such thing as sin. (Post on that pending) Sure bad things happen to people in life, it’s not because you don’t belong for belief system X. Sure you might have done some things in the past you weren’t proud of, everyone has. Human beings make mistakes, it is natural. Seek forgiveness from yourself and those you have wronged, not by convincing yourself that you’re somehow unclean…

*Except Unitarian Universalists ~_^

D&D Armor and Weapon Weights

7 May

Like I said in my earlier post on my ship dungeon, I’m new to this whole table-top gaming thing, so forgive any ignorance. (My DM girlfriend loves lecturing me about roleplaying at the drop of a hat  ~_^)

When I first flipped through her game books well over a year ago, one of the things that drove me crazy was the armor and weapons section. Having done medieval living history for almost a decade, studied Western martial arts for 5 years in ARMA, and owning a full suit of armor (the real stuff, not bullshit leather, plastic, or stainless steel) I think I can pretty well say that I know weapon and armor weights, and what you can do with both.

For example, the buckler is a small shield that can be used defensively and offensively. It has a small hand grip and is in no way “strapped” to your arm.

The hypertext 3E SRD describes a buckler as: This small metal shield is worn strapped to your forearm.” Another thing that drove me crazy was the idea of a “locked gauntlet.” Again, the SRD describes this as: “This armored gauntlet has small chains and braces that allow the wearer to attach a weapon to the gauntlet so that it cannot be dropped easily. It provides a +10 bonus on any roll made to keep from being disarmed in combat.”

Small chains? You know why real knights never wore horns on their armor? Because horns, just like chains, give the enemy something perfect to grab at and hook you on to let them pull you down. That’s why real armor is always smooth and flowing, so there is nothing that can be caught. Chains defeats the whole point. But that’s not my biggest objection. My biggest problem with this idea is that very often in real combat you want to be able to drop your weapon.

Look at this video, at around 1:30 they start to do some techniques that are part of what is called “half-swording.” Many times, when your opponent starts to “wind” his blade the only thing you can do if you can’t out wind him is to drop your blade and grapple him.

Lastly, the other thing that drove me up the wall was the weights. Let me start with shield weights.  Again, the buckler, the 3E SRD says a buckler weighs 5lbs. I’m holding mine in my hand right now and it only weighs about a pound. Here’s a picture of me with my buckler:

mewithbucklerBut perhaps the most ridiculous shield weight has to be that of a tower shield. 3E SRD says it is 45lbs. Now something like that would unpractical to carry into battle. Even these huge judicial shields weren’t that heavy, the guys can still swing them around easily.

I also know Roman re-enactors and their tower Shields aren’t that heavy either, and they have to sometimes form a testudo:

testudo

Now on to armor:

I must say, the 3E SRD does a good job when it comes to armor weights. They have padded armor at 10lbs, which is accurate.  A padded jack like this one:

is pretty darn heavy for just a bunch of cloth. Mine has 25 layer of linen and weighs about that much dry. I don’t ever want to see how heavy it is if wet.

3E SRD has full plate at 50lbs,  Swords and Wizardry core rules has it at 70, 4E player’s handbook has it also at 50. I must say that I am surprised how close to accurate they came.  The true weights are somewhere between 60lbs and 80lbs. It depends on the time period really. Here, look at this picture:

steve and me

My friend is the guy on the left, I’m the guy on the right. My suit of armor is 1370’s ish, his is 1470’s ish. His weighs about 60lbs, mine weighs about 75lbs. The difference is the chainmaile. As you can see, I have a LOT more maile than him. As the armor got better and stronger, the knights started to ditch the maile, hence why his is lighter.

Weapons:

This is the part of roleplaying that I think is most egregious and epitomised by this clip from the 13th Warrior:

Lets take my favorite weapon, the longsword:

This particular sword happens to be called “The Agincourt“, made by Albion Swords (one of the finest places to buy a real sword, period) and weighs 3lbs 7oz. Swords and Wizardry has the longsword at 10lbs! 4E is closer with a weight of 4lbs, but then gives a greatsword a weight of 8lbs!

Ask any re-enactors in Das TeufelsAlpdrücken Fähnlein how heavy their two-handers are, and they’ll tell you not more than 4-5lbs.

All these horrible weights make me think D&D is trying to tell you all swords handle like this:

D&D Glaive weight: 10lbs, real weight, 3-4lbs, D&D Halberd weight 12lbs, real weight 5lbs. D&D dagger weight 1lbs, real weight .7 (Ok, so now I’m getting picky :-p)

My DM girlfriend tries to tell me that these weights are an attempt to signify weight + volume, or how difficult it is to carry something. I don’t know if I buy that. Maybe. But it then leaves people with this horrible idea that the real weapons weigh that much, which as a re-enactor, is my duty to dispel.