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Author Topic: Spears  (Read 1293 times)

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The Skarzs

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Spears
« on: February 03, 2015, 04:24:23 AM »

There are plenty of topics on weapons on here, but I want this topic to be solely focused on the highly underrated weapon: the spear. (This includes javelins, pikes, and the like.)
I feel that this should be read and considered by those who enjoy writing fan fictions, for their battles, and also for those who participate in the roleplaying games.


Spears are extremely underrated, being portrayed as specifically throwing weapons that are clumsy because of their length or are useless against a sword; it often is unappealing because of its rather dull appearance. The fact of the matter is that spears have been the most widely-used weapon in history. Yes, swords were used everywhere, but they did not take the same basic shape that spears did: a bit of pointed metal on the end of a stick. That simple. That was why they were so widely used: they were extremely effective, and they were simple to make.

Now, spears can be used in more than a few ways: making quick little jabs, pushing enemies back at a safe distance, and throwing them, all the while able to be protected by a shield.
Spears are effective for jabbing because the leverage one has far back on the shaft with the other hand further up allows for great control and swift movement by the user. In this way one can get through gaps in armor, hit a body twice a second with great damage, and parry other weapons out of the way.
Another reason they are so effective is because they can keep enemies far away from the user and still be able to fight. As long as the user is relatively practiced in the use of the spear, he would be able to stop people from getting close in where he is vulnerable. Another small weapon might also be held for such cases.
Another advantage that a spear has is being able to be held overhand or underhand. This way one can get under or over defenses when necessary. When held underhand the spear is good for pushing and making hard thrusts. Overhand they can be used over the top of a shield, or be thrown if need be.

Spears are not flimsy. A properly made spear's haft is hefty and robust, and it would take quite the blow of a sword to cut it in half, especially if it is made of a dense wood like ash. The same is with axes: the wooden haft is hardly going to be sliced through when both opponents' weapons are moving around. Just because it gets hit does not mean it is going to break. (This is relevant for both opponents; one cannot hack the weapon in half, and the other shouldn't have to worry too much about his weapon being rendered useless.)

There are many adaptations of the spear: the javelin, mostly meant for throwing, the pike, meant for thrusting at a distance, the pole arm, meant for long hits, the "boar" spear with the flutes on the sides to prevent the point being driven further than the user wants, etc. Each are utilized for fighting, and each are extremely effective. One can easily hold off two opponents when wielding a spear, as demonstrated here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LUJ-IMknsN0 .

The spear should not be underestimated.

Hopefully I have offered some help to those who read this, as I want to put a little more realism into people's works, be it in writing or in playing.
Feel free to share your thoughts.
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James Gryphon

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Re: Spears
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 05:08:30 AM »

I've done some research on this sort of thing in the past, most recently when I started developing the fan board game, to see whether or not it would be worthwhile to have distinct units (some using swords, some with spears, etc).

What I discovered was that, historically, swords were intended to be sidearms. The Greeks and Macedonians used large formations of spear-carrying infantry. The Roman legionaries, who are known for their use of the gladius, probably used them mostly after their other weapon, the pilum (which functioned as both javelin and spear) was unavailable (whether because it had been thrown or because they were too close to their opponent). The Swiss pikemen and Landsknechts dominated late medieval Europe. Even the most famous of swordsmen, the knights, relied on the lance as their main weapon -- the sword only came into play afterwards, if the lance broke or couldn't get the job done. Some knights even forwent swords entirely and used clubs or maces, which doesn't attest to the alleged unparalleled performance of bladed weapons.

The fact of the matter is that if you have a historical army before gunpowder, the majority of your infantry should be carrying some kind of polearm, as this was a tried and proven way to conduct war.

The reason why I think spears are unpopular while swords reign supreme, in fiction, then, is that the spear is known, whether it should be or not, as a group weapon. When you think of a spear, you think of a large massed formation, like the phalanx or the pikemen I mentioned. When you think of a sword, many things might come to mind, but they're most likely all about an individual -- whether a classical warrior, or a dragon-slaying knight, or a Renaissance fencer.

Well, stories are normally about individuals, and the writer wants to create a dramatic situation involving the prowess of their single character. Duels and single combats are considered a great way of making that happens, and in that specific situation, of a close-combat fight, the sword has normally been considered the weapon of choice. So, you end up with legendary sword-fighters, while spears are relegated to the teeming masses.

None of this is to say that swords are useless; that's clearly ridiculous. They wouldn't have used them if they weren't good for something. That use would seem to be close combat, though; the scenario that readily attempts to come to mind when someone thinks of swords vs. spears, with swords being used instead of spears and having an army of guys armed only with swords wipe out an army of guys armed only with spears is not realistic.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 10:21:35 PM by James Gryphon »
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Lord_Ashenwyte

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Re: Spears
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 12:13:36 PM »

Some people (My former best friend) thought that a katana could slice leather armour into two with one slice. Ridiculous, how some katana fanboys are. A well aimed spear stab with enough force behind it could slay(or severely injure) a man wearing leather armour and a sword. And according to popular belief, a chop of a sword or axe would cut a polearm (or axe) shaft into two. They do not. A sword cut with all the force one could muster might make a severe dent into a polearm. And then that man would be dead because he was tired and his opponent had a sidearm.
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Hickory

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Re: Spears
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 03:11:43 PM »

Hehehe... I'm thinking of Razzi, when he used the brass spear for a rudder pin...
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Rusvul

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Re: Spears
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 05:17:43 PM »

   Swords are better than spears. Shortspears are one handed and deal 1d6 damage, longswords are one handed and deal 1d8. Spears are two handed and deal 1d8, greatswords are two handed and deal 2d6. Longspears are also two handed, and deal 1d8, and can attack a foe 10ft away, but they can't attack a foe that is 5ft away.

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The Skarzs

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Re: Spears
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 06:26:44 PM »

. . . Nerd.

There is no such things as a "better killing weapon", nor the "best" weapon. Swords are obviously far better for cutting than a spear will ever be, but a sword cannot be used to keep an enemy far away from you, and a sword cannot be used to stab someone when you're grappling with them with your faces pressed against each other. That's where a dagger will come in. There are weapons that are better at their appropriate uses, long range, medium, short, but they all will kill.
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Jetthebinturong

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Re: Spears
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 07:31:59 PM »

The reason spears are not commonly used in fanfiction and fiction in general is because they are boring, you cannot have an exciting fight with a spear, virtually any other weapon is better for fiction because they have more maneuverability than spears, there is only one attack you can do with a spear which is stabbing, spears can block and I guess you can hit people with the butt, but they do very little else. I'm not saying spears shouldn't be used in fiction because they should, just not for the main character.

Also James, pila is the plural, the singular is pilum.
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Re: Spears
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2015, 07:42:24 PM »

It's more for writers to consider if they want to be realistic. I really have no problem with swords being used in abundance because the fights are more interesting.
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LT Sandpaw

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Re: Spears
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2015, 08:02:42 PM »

This is actually very simple, the fact is battles were very close combat oriented and there's no room to swing a sword at all. Pressed from all sides by thousands of other men no one is about to do anything effective with a sword while spears daggers and other close combat weapons held the advantage. You might say a spear isn't a close combat weapon but it can be used as such.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 08:53:44 PM by LT Sandpaw »
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Hickory

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Re: Spears
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 08:42:58 PM »

Don't forget javelins, the best propelled and close-combat weapon ever!
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Rusvul

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Re: Spears
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 10:21:55 PM »

Nope. Javelins only deal 1d6, and they have less than half the range of a crossbow.
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Hickory

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Re: Spears
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 11:22:25 PM »

*makes grumpy face*
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Re: Spears
« Reply #12 on: February 04, 2015, 12:19:58 AM »


Wat are you talking about? weapons aren't graded on a damage ratting, it's how skilled you are with such weapon and how well you maintain your weapon. The amount of damage dealt by a specific weapon is where you land your blow and how much force you put behind it.

Are you trolling?
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James Gryphon

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Re: Spears
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2015, 01:32:51 AM »

He's going on about D&D, which, I might point out, is not really related to this topic, given that this is the Redwall History, Legends and Myths discussion forum, as opposed to Cavern Hole or the Cellars.

The comment that spears are 'boring' actually put the idea in my mind of writing a spear duel; the only trouble is that I have to have a lot more motivation than just being challenged to something, so the duel will probably never be written.

Since I brought up the Greek phalanx and the Roman legions, here's an interesting article (in the context of a historic battle strategy game) that discusses the differences between those two, for future reference.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2015, 01:51:46 AM by James Gryphon »
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Izeroth

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Re: Spears
« Reply #14 on: February 04, 2015, 02:10:54 AM »

 Spears are an ideal weapon: easy to use, cheap and simple to make, and quite effective when used collectively. It's no wonder that they appear in almost all vermin hordes.

 It's not surprising that pikes aren't shown very much in the Redwall universe, as one of the main uses of pikes was defense against mounted troops, and there are no mounted troops ever shown in the books (and only rarely in fanfictions, I might add.)

I would like to see more halberds, as I think they're a very cool weapon. You can stab your enemies with the spear part and then hit them with the axe!
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