Melee weapons for monster hunting?

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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LaCroix » 2017-02-07 11:32am

Yes - different beasts need different equipment. Siege crossbows, for example.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Q99 » 2017-02-07 01:58pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:Thing is with any deep stabbing attack, your probably going to loose your weapon if its a decent, say horse sized, monster in the process. So either its a kill wound or the monster kills you while your spear is stuck in its side, then may or may not die later.So if that's your approach you need to know the monster will just attack you head on and make that easy to impale it. If the monster fights back with its own tactics then your probably not going to be able to stab it deeply with any ease, and that's where the chopping and cutting stuff comes into play.

If the ground is open enough the real thing to do would just be a lancer on horseback.


That's why stabbing spears sometimes have guards to prevent them from getting stuck.

Also, not having your weapon trapped *is* secondary to getting a killing blow. Any choice must have some method of doing the job, and spears were often the primary choice for good reason. Either deep stabbing or if slicing, one with heavy impact for deep wounds.

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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2017-02-07 04:27pm

For spear hunting its not uncommon to just carry several lightweight spears, and throw them. For humans hunting as humans that's a pretty overwhelmingly effective way to go, since humans will outrun all large animals over long distance getting within range isn't actually a problem. Inflicting any kind of wound will vastly reduce the distance the animal can travel till exhaustion, that's where limited wounds on the limbs can be nearly as good as kill blows. Just keeps bleeding and bleeding while the animals keeps running away.

The guards exist yeah, but then that's a trade off against maximum penetration depth, since after a point the guard won't help cause its stuck too deep anyway. So again, pretty dependent on relative size. The guard is better the smaller the target is.

Honestly though, if the monster is just another animal then probably any weapon could work, but the big problem is avoiding the mutual kill. If the monster has some kind of intelligent monster combat the approaching knight sort of behavior though it's situational then. At that point trying to use some kind of irritant like burning sulfur might be very useful, or burning oil bombs if you can get that. Doesn't need to kill, just distract.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LaCroix » 2017-02-07 05:37pm

Javelin hunting is rare. The only traditional spear hunting is boars and lions. Usually, you used bows and crossbows, for all game.

The guard (on a boar spear, for example) is not to minimize penetration depth to not get stuck.

It is primarily to stop the boar's advance along the shaft if it happes to charge you, and to make it possible to hold the boar in place after having inflicted a 30cm deep wound, which will be fatal over time, even if placed in the abdomen. If you can't hold it off during the time for it to croak, the boar will use it's last reserves to take you with it. As long as it is safely attached to the other end of the long stick, you are safe from the tusks.

Same for lions. Usually, lions are hunted with spear and shield. As with boars, arrows might not stop them quickly enough, but with the added risk of paws swiping at you with a non-neglible reach, the shield is a necessity.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-07 05:54pm

PeZook told me that the guard/hook things around the spearhead in European hunting spears were likewise to stop the impaled bear from further advancing, sliding down the shaft (that just slides through its body), and reaching and thus murdering the hunter/spearer.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-02-07 06:10pm

Javelins are typically more often seen in a mounted context, notably chariots in the Near East and horseback in the Indo-Persian realm. They carry a heavier punch than arrows, but you carry fewer of them-- a classic tradeoff.

Indian javelins were often made of solid steel, tip to tail-- considerable kinetic energy there.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Simon_Jester » 2017-02-07 06:29pm

It sounds like you're mainly thinking of javelins in the context of warfare in developed societies, not hunting so much.

The thing is, bows outrange javelins, but are hard to use from horseback. So in the pre-stirrup era, throwing javelins from horseback is one of the more effective ways to fight from horseback.

For an infantryman, javelins can become counterproductive because of the range issue... And yet you still saw skirmishers equipped with them, along with the famous Roman legionaires and their pila.

For hunting purposes, a bow is often preferable to a thrown spear, but a thrown spear is realistically a pretty effective choice. In a roleplaying game where the effect of minor wounds on an animal's stamina may not be modeled at all... maybe not so much.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LadyTevar » 2017-02-08 05:47am

The Roman pilum had a pyramidal head on a milder steel shank, loosely attached to a wooden haft. The theory was the harder metal head punched through shield and/or armor, and the smaller, lighter shank continued the penetration. Then, as an added feature, the weaker shank would bend, which prevented an enemy from simply chucking it back. When the pilum hit armor or shield and bent, the enemy now had to contend with a 6ft long shaft of useless metal and wood weighing them down. Many pila were also designed for the wooden haft to touch ground and dig in, which was especially useful stopping a charging enemy.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-08 09:52am

LadyTevar wrote:The Roman pilum...


Thanks LT that would be very useful for monstrosos actually...

Now I have to decide whether or not my guy either stabs with the spear and thus uses a polearm or chucks the weapon like a pilium...
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LaCroix » 2017-02-08 12:12pm

The pilum does not work in a vacuum, though.
It works when you have a line of your friends, all in heavy armor, and each covering the line with a huge shield against the carging attackers at short range, and having the same short stabby sword to use once you have your shields pressed against the enemy.

For a single person, it becomes a problem, for a single pilum can easily be dodged by a beast. also, the pilum head does not create a significant wound channel. You do want a larger leaf shaped head on it for hunting.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-02-08 01:42pm

LaCroix wrote:The pilum does not work in a vacuum, though.
It works when you have a line of your friends, all in heavy armor, and each covering the line with a huge shield against the carging attackers at short range, and having the same short stabby sword to use once you have your shields pressed against the enemy.

For a single person, it becomes a problem, for a single pilum can easily be dodged by a beast. also, the pilum head does not create a significant wound channel. You do want a larger leaf shaped head on it for hunting.


I can see a 'hunting pilum' being an option, perhaps. You could even make it so it breaks down for easier transport.

If it's an option, perhaps you could make the wooden shaft portion out of a lighter wood like bamboo or rattan-- that way you could tote several. The downside of this is you lose mass. One solution the Romans had was to incorporate a lead ball at the junction between head and wooden shaft, but then that cancels out the weight savings.

Of course, pila aren't a single-shot weapon... they were meant to be a volley weapon to decimate the front rank of the enemy. You want something with more serious accuracy, for which a more normal javelin might be easier and more convenient.

Overall though an ordinary spear would probably work better against a 'monster', and you probably shouldn't be hunting those by yourself unless you've got magic on your side like the Witcher...
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Lord Revan » 2017-02-08 02:17pm

We should assume that monster isn't aware of the hunter before the hunter strikes as rule of thumb, also you'd want a hunting party, traps or both when hunting one larger monsters generally found in fantasy and you're essentially a normal human, idea here being that when hunting a monster you don't have to make it "fair".
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Zixinus » 2017-02-08 04:22pm

There should be one important difference in the attitude of a monster and an animal: the monster is aggressively out to kill/hurt people. This a general defintion of a monster, really.

Animals are generally reluctant to fight humans, willl do so only when they feel threatened (either themselves or their young) or extreemly hungry/mistaking humans for prey. They will be reluctant to attack humans and may be happy either to run away if possible (and injured) or stop chasing the human running away. They may also give warnings in the form of body language and posturing. There may be moments when the animal is actively considering whether the human they encounter is weak or prey (such as standing still or running away).

Whereas a monsters are usually described as bloodthirsty, fearless, senseless, etc (or the other end, cunning, deceptive). They likely may seek out humans and attack first (hence readiness of a weapon is important: a weakness with giant two-handed swords and such) or even make ambushes. They may select humans even when easier prey (livestock) is in reach. They may choose to attack humans for the sake of doing so, when it is risky and does not give them much benefit. They may be locked to peculiar patterns such are luring people or methods of attack (grabbing to suck out their blood).
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Elheru Aran » 2017-02-08 05:24pm

Zixinus wrote:There should be one important difference in the attitude of a monster and an animal: the monster is aggressively out to kill/hurt people. This a general defintion of a monster, really.

Animals are generally reluctant to fight humans, willl do so only when they feel threatened (either themselves or their young) or extreemly hungry/mistaking humans for prey. They will be reluctant to attack humans and may be happy either to run away if possible (and injured) or stop chasing the human running away. They may also give warnings in the form of body language and posturing. There may be moments when the animal is actively considering whether the human they encounter is weak or prey (such as standing still or running away).

Whereas a monsters are usually described as bloodthirsty, fearless, senseless, etc (or the other end, cunning, deceptive). They likely may seek out humans and attack first (hence readiness of a weapon is important: a weakness with giant two-handed swords and such) or even make ambushes. They may select humans even when easier prey (livestock) is in reach. They may choose to attack humans for the sake of doing so, when it is risky and does not give them much benefit. They may be locked to peculiar patterns such are luring people or methods of attack (grabbing to suck out their blood).


Question: what about animals that view humans as a legitimate prey?

Take Africa back in the day-- if a lion decided it liked the taste of people, there wasn't much to stop it apart from a bunch of people getting together with spears and shields. Ever read the Man-Eaters of Tsavo? Honestly your whole second paragraph could describe the Man-Eaters pretty well.

So if you have, say, a dragon, out doing dragon-y things like eating sheep (with the occasional fair maiden for variety), collecting gold, holing up in a big-ass cave in the mountains... is it a monster, or is it simply an exceptional animal?
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Lord Revan » 2017-02-08 10:56pm

Tbh in some works (like Witcher IIRC) "monster" is just a term for mythical/supernatural beings given by ignorant masses and some monster you hunt aren't exclusively targeting humans (or even predominantly) but rather are animals, large, aggressive and dangerous animals but still just beasts. Hell some intelligent "monsters" might even be harmless to humans if not provoked, it all depends on the work in question.

In Witcher neither (higher) Vampires or Succubi are always harmful to humans some are some aren't. Also in Warcraft dragons aren't always harmful to humans though black dragons tend to be harmful to anyone who isn't a black dragon and other flights tend to protect certain locations rather aggressively and proto-dragons are just smart animals and aren't hunthing humans(or other playble races) any more then any other (large) northrend predator.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Zixinus » 2017-02-09 02:39am

The term "monster" has always been nebulous and vague. Usually they are a malevolent challenge that needs to be met, something threatening to humans. The Witcher deliberately introduces ambiguity about the term but there are still "true" monsters in the series (game and books). Other authors/creators introduce even more so that the term is meaningless and some don't. Some ascribe it as a trait rather than a being. We can argue about definition and the range to little real conclusion because the term is arbitrary by nature.

I'm just saying that the behavior of your fantasy creatures is/can be notably different than that of a wild animal and that has to be accounted for in tactics and weapons. I do agree that hunting big game is a good starting off point however.

Question: what about animals that view humans as a legitimate prey?


In my perspective, if they are naturally part of the environment then they are hazard that has to be accounted for. People that live on the African steppe with lions do not hunt at night usually because of lions. Lions still get people on occasion but rarely. Lions exist independently of humans and will pursue other prey. A monster should be something exceptional, something notably malevolent towards humans and different from the usual environment.

I would point to lions like the Man-Eaters of Tsavo as a good, real-life example because of their abnormal behavior.

Ever read the Man-Eaters of Tsavo?


There was a fascinating video from Brainscoop that did analysis about them, including showing us their skulls. It points to the theory that the man-eaters may have decided to hunt humans due to an injury that prevented them and because of low numbers of their natural prey. Which would indicate abnormality. I would say that the man-eaters would qualify as monsters due to how their behavior is notably abnormal for lions. I have not read the first-hand account, but I would not be surprised if there is natural bias of the hunter exaggerates their actual monstrosity.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-09 01:37pm

And there's a difference between a man-eater that *hunts* people for prey and a man-eater that fights a human that's attacking it, rather than fleeing.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Q99 » 2017-02-12 03:47pm

As a backup, I'd go for a simple six-to-eight inch spike.

Main weapon, you want something big and powerful. Secondary weapon, carrying a second big weapon is just going to get in the way, and it's only going to matter vs smaller monsters, you want it something you can use in close, one-handed, but can still deal some damage/pain, and it's something for, say, stabbing into a grip holding you, for stabbing into a neck repeatedly while you're holding onto a back, or similar.

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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LaCroix » 2017-02-13 07:52am

Q99 wrote:As a backup, I'd go for a simple six-to-eight inch spike.


You are fighting something that is not wearing armor, but having skin. Thick skin, most likely.

A short spike is the worst weapon in that situation. You want something that makes wounds as big as possible (blood loss), with the least resistance while going in, and the least possibility to get stuck in the wound. For each of these, a double edged blade will perform better.

A blade is creating a cut while sliding in, destroying ass tissue in it's way. A spike could very miss all major blood vessels (even if you manage to hit them, they might just get pushed out of way) and just make a hole in muscle tissue with no real damage done.

A spike is thick and needs to push tissue apart to slide in. A flat blade with cutting edes goes in much deeper. For example - there is at least one study about arrows with various heads, and the ones with blades go a LOT deeper than the simple spike types.

If a spike is in, it will act as a tamponage to eventual blood loss, and he wound channes will constrict. It's very hard to pull it back out. (See stuck arrows).
The nature of a blade-cut puncture wound is that when you try to pull the blade back out, it will actually open the wound channel up even wider while doing so (as it still has cutting edges that work on tissue)

Even against an opponent with armor, a slender blade would be better than a spike in most cases. Only when you are actively trying to go through metal armor (mail or plate), you'd use spikes, but then we'd put them on a long stick to increase force and call them warhammers/raven beak's or even polearms
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Shroom Man 777 » 2017-02-13 01:08pm

So... a stilleto-like pigsticker? Or something wider like a more normal-looking hunting knife?
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Zixinus » 2017-02-13 01:40pm

Or just a dagger. They still use them to do "mercy kill", when a shot misses the heart. Or any long, slender knife would do.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Q99 » 2017-02-13 06:30pm

My thinking is with *monsters*, armor or tough scales / fur of some kind will almost be a given, and shallow knife wounds or, worse, no wounds, are going to have next to no effect.

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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Zixinus » 2017-02-14 02:06am

Why would a spike work when a long dagger won't? A knife will cut into flesh while with a spike you have to push it into the flesh. Unless you have a hammer, a knife is easier. Plus the edge will help you pull the knife out, which is something you want as it exacerbates the damage it does to the tissue as well as helping you stay armed.
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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby LaCroix » 2017-02-14 06:56am

I really shouldcheck my messages more thoroghly when I write from my phone - it was supposed to be "all tissue" not "ass tissue"... :)

But yes, any blade that is double edged, tapered, and "not slender" is preferable for such reasons. Some knife bayonets, for example are direct copies of common hunting knives (e.g. designs proven to work well to stabby kill something)

For example, this is a very common used set for boar hunt - the 8" knife can be used in hand, or on the 6 foot shaft. Sturdy, and with a cutout to reduce weight. The tapered tip allows easy penetrytion, the slimmer waist reduces friction and makes petration deeper and blade capture less likely (when getting stuck on the way out, it cuts itself out due to the inverted taper portion).

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Re: Melee weapons for monster hunting?

Postby Q99 » 2017-02-25 07:13pm

Zixinus wrote:Why would a spike work when a long dagger won't? A knife will cut into flesh while with a spike you have to push it into the flesh. Unless you have a hammer, a knife is easier. Plus the edge will help you pull the knife out, which is something you want as it exacerbates the damage it does to the tissue as well as helping you stay armed.


More concentrated force, needs to push less of the target aside to go deep. The more flexible something is, the less optimized it is for any task, stabbing included.

An icepick motion is about the maximum amount of force one can deliver with a one-handed weapon.


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