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7-13-2009 @ 6:10PM
I would have thought paladins used maces for a more practical reason. Maces don't need sharpening, they don't get notched as much as swords, less likely to break. Maces are more effective against an armoured foe than a sword, you have to get a sword through a gap in plate armor, where as a mace strike to the helmet is taking you down.
7-13-2009 @ 7:22PM
all valid points, just not mentioned i guess.
7-13-2009 @ 9:24PM
I thought I read somewhere that, historically speaking, only the top third of a broadsword or hand-and-a-half sword was actually sharp and meant for cutting and stabbing. The other two-thirds were for blocking and crushing bone. Interestingly, most two-handers were wielded with only one hand on the actual grip. The other hand was placed just above the cross guard on the dull part of the blade. This allowed them to have better control of the weapon.
7-13-2009 @ 11:33PM
This is purely from a DnD point of view, but many paladins use maces and such b/c their main foes are undead, which are mostly skeletons. In DnD, blunt attacks do more damage to skeletal foes b/c a crushing blunt force would smash a skeleton, whereas a slicing attack would simply glance off the bones.
7-14-2009 @ 7:54AM
@ Wildwinds - That's just a reason to use a mace not a reason why Paladins specifically would use maces and not swords. What Talamah says makes more sense. As, where swords lack the raw power, they make up for it in speed and accuracy and armour is as vulnerable to piercing thrusts as it is to crushing blows... as it were so it's no real good reason to choose one over the other. Only personal preference is the real decider.For example you could reason that clerics, monks, etc would have reason to carry around mace-like objects in their day to day life. Hammers, sceptres, etc. With which, at short notice, they could turn to violence if they had too, in such a scenario as their monastery, cathedral or town is ransacked by bandits or scourge or whatever and then later if violence was often called upon them, in war or so, they would retort to larger versions of that which they were previously succesful. They would have no reason to learn how to use a sword in their day to day life in a monastery, a knife possibly but maintenance of the building and it's grounds and any other work they might get up to could leave them with a base martial knowledge of blunter weapons/tools however.At the end of the day though the reason is simple. Blizz and others think Paladins look cooler with big hammers... and big glowy books... or at least decided that was something that set them apart from any other warrior.
7-14-2009 @ 11:03AM
Historically the largest number of wounds inflicted in battles were suffered to the back of the legs (then front.) Chain mail was able to withstand pretty much any attack at the time simply because a human being cannot generate the amount of penetrating force needed to get through the armor. Stabbing weapons designed to get through the links in the mail were adapted and they were quickly defeated by wearing wool cloth layered underneath.The leg wounds usually happened when one side routed. The moment their lines broke they all ran for their lives, exposing their backs to the enemies. Well, usually people weren't armored in the back all that much wearing some types of armor and legs were almost never armored in the back... Cut their hamstring, they scream like a girl and hit the floor. Continue past and get more of them while this happens.The armor vs weapon arms race always had armor winning out simply because a new weapon showed up and armor could be modified quickly to defeat it again. Only real exceptions were late in the period. British Longbows could penetrate chain or even plated armor at normal thicknesses with little effort. These weapons were also trained on from childhood and deformed the bowman's skeleton to enable the amount of force required to launch the arrows like this. Even then, sloping armor made this more difficult as arrows would shatter on impact and lose the penetrating force (it was deflected not absorbed.) Heavy Crossbows could penetrate armor at short range and were devastating. These required a long period to reload and were preferred for assassinations and not general warfare. These weapons were replaced by muskets which while being no where near as accurate or having the range of a longbow required only training in reloading and firing at point blank. Once the firearm became common armor vanished. It could not stop the rounds and so people moved away from it and towards tactics that allowed mass infantry to engage and not have nobility singled out for special target practice. Maces were not that effective even against chain or wool armor. The damage of a mace is caused by bring all teh force into a general area and causing blunt force trauma. When the armor absorbs the impact and spreads the force over a larger area the damage is buffered very well. Exceptions to this are hitting unarmored places or places where the armor cannot absorb damage very well. The legs were the best spot for this as they were relatively stationary, not as well armored and wounds there tended to make the opponent give up and ask to be ransomed. Swords that hit the back of the legs could often cause damage as well.While the romantic aspects of battle in the time period show valiant knights fighting on a field with honor. The reality of it was that they did this while bored waiting for the crops to grow and they did whatever it took to force the other guy to ask to stop. Ransoms were common and expected. Deaths happened but if you had an option of beating a guy and killing him, or beating him, selling him back to his family for some chickens and then waiting till next year to beat the snot out of him and get more chickens, you probably would get the chickens. Eggs are nummy.
7-15-2009 @ 7:10PM
There are arguments both ways. The effectiveness of a blunt weapon on an armored foe is certainly true, however very few people actually wore heavy armor. Unless you had a title it would be unlikely that you would have metal armor. Plate armor had to be specifically built per person (so no to little interchangeability) and took significant skill to bend and shape the plates to fit the person without going back and altering them a lot. Reheating metal without otherwise treating it causes it to become brittle, easily shattering under heavy blows. A full suit of plate armor took about 1 to 3 years to construct, and could easily cost equivalently as much as 1 to 3 large single-family homes (i.e. as much as 10 to 15 times a working man's common yearly salary). Chain mail was much cheaper since it is all made of one element, metal rings. The rings could be cut from a single long metal rod/wire, bent, and then smithed into a suit. The Cutting and bending are simple tasks that someone with no smithing skill could do, and building a suit of mail requires significantly less smithing skill than constructing plate. You could also pre-construct most of the suit, making it an over-large one-size-fits-all affari. It was still time-intensive to make a chain suit, taking easily a few months, but you did not need skilled smiths, and you could have many people churn out rods and rings while many armorers could separately assemble sleeves and chain swatches and then join them up. Even so chain armor used a lot of metal and time, and a good suit of double chain could cost about half to a quarter of a plate suit.Swords were weapons of the nobility for the same reason. While their construction didn't take as much time or materials as a suit of armor, the amount of craftsmanship and smithing knowledge required was excruciating, making them rather expensive. While cheap ones could be bought for much less, they would easily bend or shatter. Besides being strictly regulated, making a good sword is a difficult task that requires special attention at every stage of the process. The point being... metal armor was not anywhere near as common as it is in WoW. It was expensive both time-wise and materials-wise... which made them the weapons and armor of lords, not of common monks or priors who spent their days in solemn study or quiet industry. The most common weapon you would find in an abbey would be mostly farm tools, the weapons of peasants. Polearms derived mainly from farming tools; for instance the Billhook or Bill-guisarme was a tool used to clear brush. Knives and wood axes would also be common.As the Christian Church gained more power and money through grants of money and especially land, the ecclesiastical leaders that controlled those lands started to resemble local lords much more than clergy. One striking example of this is in Song of Roland. Roland's close friend and ally, the bloodthirstly Archbishop Turpin rides to war with him, and puts his own longsword to plenty of 'heathen Saracens'. Archibishop Turpin was one of the very first 'paladins'. The 'paladins' in Song of Roland were a group of 12 soldiers (the 12 Peers), who were close confidants of Charlemagne, and lords in their own right. The word 'paladin' likely came from a Latin word for a Roman high official working closely with the Emperor. The 12 Peers were powerful lords working directly for Charlemagne, so the title fit. Through stories like Song of Roland, the word 'paladin' began to mean more a virtuous warrior than a high official.Our image of the 'Paladian', a plate armor-clad Medieval European holy warrior, likely comes from the Crusades, a series of religiously-charged military actions, in many cases sanctioned by the Christian Church at the time, between ~1100-1300 AD (or CE if you prefer). The Crusades were a series of bloody, and later on rather questionable, actions that were brought on by the same problem that has fueled a majority of war in the Middle East in the last thousand years, access to the Holy Land.After the first few Crusades, and the immense profit, orders of knights began to spring up that would escort others traveling to visit the Holy Land and protect people while they were there. Orders such as the Hospitallers, the Teutonic Knights, and, of course, the Knights Templar often made their members quite rich. There were easily a dozen other orders, but these were some of the main powers in the area, granted extraordinary powers by the Pope, making them largely their own nation, subject to no Earthly kings. These Knights were in many cases professional soldiers, not necessarily holding titles, who needed a way to support themselves. This mission was not only lucrative, but also sanctioned by the Christian Church, so soldiers could make an excellent living, and hope that they were helping the cause of their religion. It's likely these knights are our template for 'Paladins'.. virtuous warriors in heavy armor living exclusively to further the cause of their religion.The exclusion of bladed weapons isn't too clear. As warriors they would have used the best weapon for the job, whatever it was. It could be an attempt to reduce actual 'bloodshed', i.e. killing without drawing blood, however it is most likely an adopted restriction. Often the most powerful items in games are large swords designed for warriors, which would be much too powerful in the hands of a character that can heal itself, and often buff itself with offensive and defensive spells. Forcing Paladins to use blunt weapons at best, like the archtypal Cleric, limits their weapons' damage output, allowing the character itself to be more powerful.I'd encourage anyone interested in the genesis of the Paladin archtype to read the Song of Roland. It is a very accessible book and is generally available at most bookstores.
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