Fantastical Sword Training

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Imperial528
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Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Imperial528 » 2019-10-21 11:22am

I've been working on a fantasy story, and I've run into a question about training swordsmanship.

I have read that some modern teachers start with blunt weapons for their students, and then move onto using sharps when their students are ready for them, and that there is historical evidence from treatises of the same progression in the past. I've been thinking of a magical substitute for sharp weapons, that would allow students to practice as if using a sharp and go all out without risk of harming their opponent or themselves.

The premise of it is that magic bound to a practice weapon simulates the properties of a real sword. When active it has the same weight, balance, and a similar appearance to a sharp sword. While the blade is merely an illusion, being struck with it feels like being cut or stabbed with a real weapon, and the wielder feels proportional resistance. Attacks that would remove or disable a limb numb the body below the cut, and render it limp. Immediate fatal wounds do not inflict pain or simulate wounds at all, instead all effects fade and the weapons deactivate, though the "deceased" party is hit with an extremely unpleasant sense of overwhelming fatigue for a few moments. The illusory blades do transmit force; however they stop at the point where the force would become damaging. I.e., you swing your weapon at your opponent's head, if it's a hard enough swing that the force of it would be enough to injure but not instantly kill, the blade applies some force to the opponent and then simulates how the full blow would feel to them.

As part of this, each participant wears a vest that monitors their body and plays a part in applying and maintaining illusory effects. The vests are paired to each weapon in preparation, and contain the magical controls for enabling or disabling weapons.

To this who have experience with swordsmanship, or know about the history of it, does this seem to be a useful training tool? The purpose of it in the story is to introduce the reader to the most common form of magic in the setting, enchanted items, in a way that blends well with the protagonist's occupation: a retired soldier who works for the city guard during the growing season, training new recruits. Presume that the economics of these practice swords are such that they aren't particularly expensive.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-10-21 12:07pm

Anything that minimizes the chances of harm is a good thing.

That said, the historic mindset was somewhat different from ours. There are some arguments that they regularly trained with either sharp swords or slightly dulled versions of regular swords, mostly because the way the edges interact is different than how training blunts 'bind'. But only the most risk-taking people actually train with sharps today, for obvious reasons; blunts are far more common, and you still need a lot of protection. Protection wasn't as common historically, though that's one area where the documentary evidence isn't helpful-- most depictions of sword-play and training simply have people wearing everyday garb, even if they're wielding obvious 'federschwert' trainers.

For some dramatic tension, you could have the magic training equipment be a new development, and contrasted to traditional methods where the risk of harm is higher, but the argument is made that it forces people to learn more quickly.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by LaCroix » 2019-10-21 12:37pm

You NEVER practice combat with a sharp sword. Because you'll have a dull sword after practice. Any parry will leave a gouge or chip the edge, and you'll end up with a blunt weapon over time. In the best case. Grinding these out might be impossible, though, so a sword may well be ruined.

For excample, it is a well documented fact that Japanese sword makets made 9 out of 10 blades to replace the ones destroyed in Battle. That's why there are so few old blades still surviving. Unless they were taken out of active duty for sentimental reasons and never used in a battle, they rarely survived.

Coincidentally, such ruined beyond resharpening swords were often ground blunt and used for further training. Such are the origins of said "Federschwerter" (which later got produced that way, too, as a training implement)

Today or back then, nobody used sharp swords for training. There is no particular difference in how they interact, apart from the fact that sharp blades might hack into each other and therefore bind differently, but that also means that you need a new sword every so often, and will have metal chips flying during training, and eventually have a catastrophic failure, with a nice piese of sharp blade flying off to find a juicy target.
Back then and now, nobody likes to injure himself, bystanders, or training partners, and swords were and are pretty expensive pieces of kit.


So- no sharp swords, ever.

One exception:
You will practice cutting (eg. edge alignment) with a sharp sword, but only on targets, not on anything that blocks. That is hard on the blade, too, but usually (unless you messed up badly) the blade will only need a slight rehoning after that, and not suffer damage.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by LaCroix » 2019-10-21 12:48pm

About the training - any hit is usually considered the end of a fight. Because swords are fantastically good in removing somebodies ability to fight back. Usually, training also says that any hit where the other hits you back is a double kill, so keep your guard up, and do not overextend for a cheap hit.

A cut to your arm will most likely make you react to this immense pain for long enough to give a follow up possibility. The other one should take that. IF not, you may or may not be able to fight full on. If it takes off your arm, the fight will be over in a few seconds with you on the ground and blacking out in pain and blood loss. So the numbing is not really a necessity. Any hit has the possibility that it hits a blood vessel, which means quick death with no ambulance nearby.

Rather make them give a very painful jolt on each hit, too (on top of the numbing). Numbing and discomfort makes you willing to take a hit in order to hit back - that will train people to get double killed in a real engagement. A fighter should be paranoid of ever getting hit. The only way to win is to not get hit while hitting the other bastard at least once. You drum that into them, until they puke, and then some more.

Unless you are training "meat" for the grinder - those people you want to attack with less concern for their health, or battles do not work if everyony hides in defensive poses too much. But anyone who is worthy enough to get actual trainging beyond which end goes where is too valuable to suicide into the enemy, so you will certainly not train that habit into them.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Imperial528 » 2019-10-21 12:56pm

Oh, they do inflict as much pain as any real wound would, and while it wouldn't be impossible to make them inflict more pain than a wound, I feel like that would be counterproductive on its own*. The numbness is part of simulating the consequence of the wound; not only does the wound hurt like a real one, it instills a real sense of "Okay, if my enemy manages to land this hit here on my arm, I suddenly can't close that hand. Okay, I need to watch for that one."

*Inflicting more pain than to be expected from a real sword I think could go very wrong, with people taking bad hits and brushing them off since they don't feel as bad as they expected, and getting themselves killed for it.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-10-21 01:45pm

I'd be worried that such magical training methods will be training students to avoid taking painful hits, even if they have to take fight ending instead, because the painful hits are less pleasant in training. Not the lesson you want to teach.
The illusory blades do transmit force; however they stop at the point where the force would become damaging.
What happens if a blow has enough force to inflict injury and knock the target off balance ?


I also have to wonder if swords are the most practical weapon for whatever combat these students are being trained for. But you might not care about that bit of realism.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Elheru Aran » 2019-10-21 02:23pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2019-10-21 01:45pm
I also have to wonder if swords are the most practical weapon for whatever combat these students are being trained for. But you might not care about that bit of realism.
Seconded.

Historically most common weapon, bar none? Spear. Turns out pointy sticks are pretty dang simple, cheap, and don't require a ton of training; it basically boils down to 'pointy end in the other guy'. Second most common? Axe. Most people handled an axe at some point in their lives, and it's not far removed from the simple club/mace, the only wrinkle being keeping track of where the sharp bit is. Swords are a bit down the line.

Also, sword training was mostly a matter of people who a.) were able to come by a sword and b.) expected to use it, then c.) lived somewhere there was a population of veterans/experienced fighters willing to train them. Judicial duels are also part of that context (in Renaissance era Europe at least). There was also a certain expectation that people of a certain class and upwards would have at least some knowledge of how to handle weapons, however that was usually done 'in-house'. Beyond that, all you're gonna get is a drill sergeant going 'hold it like this, move it like this, everybody got that? good, now pick up your bags and let's march'.

Outside the Western/European context, I'm less familiar with training. I'd expect most militaries would provide a certain amount of training, particularly standing forces like the Mamelukes-- temporary levies, less so. Then in the East you have various martial-arts traditions. I can't really speak to all that though.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Imperial528 » 2019-10-21 04:27pm

bilateralrope wrote:
2019-10-21 01:45pm
I'd be worried that such magical training methods will be training students to avoid taking painful hits, even if they have to take fight ending instead, because the painful hits are less pleasant in training. Not the lesson you want to teach.
I was puzzling over what to really do for lethal wounds. My original idea was either inflicting paralysis or immediate unconsciousness, but then I got to thinking about the risks of fall over and hitting your head, etc.
bilateralrope wrote:
2019-10-21 01:45pm
What happens if a blow has enough force to inflict injury and knock the target off balance ?
It would inflict a sense of unbalance but not actually hit them hard enough to injure or move significantly.
bilateralrope wrote:
2019-10-21 01:45pm
I also have to wonder if swords are the most practical weapon for whatever combat these students are being trained for. But you might not care about that bit of realism.
I figure it'd be the, er, officers is the word I want to use, but I'm not quite sure what sort of structure the city's guard would have, yet, and I feel like officer is too modern. It'd be people who've graduated beyond the usual means of a club, polearm, or axe. People seen as important enough to carry a sword. Probably a fair number of "political appointees" among them, such that there's enough people expected to know their weapon, who don't. The protagonist's role as a mentor to these students is also likely driven politically; the city and wider realm have been at peace, and some worry that peace has lead to complacency. So they put some veteran soldiers in the right places to try and keep the newer ones in shape. Though the details of that aren't as important for the story I'm telling; it's more of a personal, family-focused affair.


Regardless of all that, I've been doing some thinking and the magic training weapons feel fairly over-complicated for the role they had in the story, and indeed in the setting, so I think I'll set them aside. Perhaps leave them for non-lethal dueling, or as a game for the well-off, who can afford such trinkets.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Formless » 2019-10-21 04:43pm

Okay, the answer to this question is actually far more complex than people here are giving it credit. From my own research, it seems to depend on two variables (at least!): the kind of swords being used (and whether its being used with a shield) and the culture that made the sword.

On the first one, LaCroix's claim that you should never spar with sharp swords because the swords will chip is a perspective biased by the obsession most HEMA practitioners have with the two handed sword. With two handed swords, its easy to move the tip really fast simply with a push-pull movement of the hands. That leads to a chipping problem in sparring, even with feders and other blunt steel swords that are overly hardened. But with one handed swords, its less of an issue. Its hard to move the sword to those speeds with one hand, so the swords are more likely to get notched than outright chipped. Chipping is a safety hazard because the fragments can hit you in the eye, but notches are not as much of an issue, even to the sword's longevity. There are plenty of swords in museums that show evidence of having notches ground out of their blades at some point, but chipped swords would have to just be recycled because there is no easy remedy for that.

So basically, guys who practice with longswords apparently didn't practice with sharps except to practice cutting (as is mostly the case today) or to practice half-swording (which is thrust oriented, and besides which how else are you going to learn how to grip a sharp blade?), but guys who practiced one handed sword styles may have done so in certain circumstances. It was definitely done by the time the smallsword was around, hence the image of smallswords and epee's with corks on the tips. Though to be fair, those swords were only sharp at the tip, but anyway. If its a thrust oriented style such as rapier or certain sword and buckler systems, sharp sparring gives essential feedback in the bind that teaches you how to apply the principles of strong VS weak. You also learn what you can get away with, because blunt swords will slide against one another and sharps don't tend to do that. In his experiments, Roland Warzecka found that a lot of i33 sword and buckler techniques were being done wrong even by himself because they were being practiced with blunts-- sharp blades will lock together nearer to the tip of the sword, allowing you to gain leverage. Blunts will just slide down onto the hand, never allowing you to put the blade into the proper position for certain techniques. This also helps explain why rapiers have sharp edges when they are rarely used for cutting, and can't cut into bone anyway. And no, this phenomenon isn't just because of the blades getting notched, its a fundamental property of a sharp blade. They will even do it edge to flat.

Oh, and of course, practicing with sharps changes your mindset. People who have done it tend to notice that with blunts, they focus a lot on scoring hits, but with sharps? The importance of not getting cut becomes unavoidable in the mind.

Of course, that doesn't mean everyone would want to use sharps in sparring. It should only be done at slow speed, and only by experienced swordsmen. Roland isn't your typical sword and buckler guy, he was doing it for years with blunts before experimenting with sharps, as have many of his students. There are even a few guys who have experimented with longswords in the same way, but that's how we know about the chipping issue-- people back in the day didn't have the advantage of modern face masks to protect their eyes. You also probably wouldn't do it with most one handers that are balanced for the cut, as you need to go slow so you can pull your blows. People who have tried it with viking era swords have often learned just how deep those things can cut, and people weren't that stupid back then. A possible exception is for some designs of early falchion that seem to be designed for trapping other swords; however, I bet they would only do it in prescribed drills rather than full on sparring, as those suckers are still fairly forward balanced. For most cut oriented swords like the longsword, messer, dussack, katana, and later saber systems sparred exclusively with blunt training weapons, even if it was a simple staff.

Then there is the cultural issue. Everyone knows how swordsman in the west trained-- mostly. I think a lot of people forget that wooden trainers were more common than feders, and the fact wood doesn't bend or flex is one reason I don't think sharp sparring was as uncommon as many think. A thrust from a wooden sword fucking hurts. Drills are also more common than people tend to think, even today. Going right into sparring without drilling in proper technique is a n00b mistake and a good way to habituate bad technique. Practicing with a pell was quite important, and could also be done with a sharp if you wanted to. Wrestling is also important... blah blah blah. Lets get outside the Eurozone and talk about Asia and Africa to see if there is any inspiration to be found there.

Asian techniques are pretty much trained the same way now as they always have been. The use of forms is indeed ancient, but the main difference between today and back when swords and spears were actually used is mentality. Sword masters in medieval China actually knew what these forms meant, that is, what the techniques embedded in the forms were for. A lot of people today only see them in aesthetic terms, but there are a lot of real binding techniques and even wrestling throws that are hidden in the forms. The Chinese used forms for the same reason I gave above for the use of drills: get the techniques right, then spar. The forms also ensured that the techniques didn't have to be written down to be preserved (although they still were). There are also, as I understand it, two man forms that show the purpose of the forms more clearly, but they aren't practiced as much today and when they are they are often exaggerated for aesthetic flair. A sword fight in ancient china probably looked more like a HEMA match than a kung fu movie, albeit with different techniques than you see in HEMA. Some of the more military forms still exist if you know where to look for them, and it tends to be a lot of simple cutting and stabbing, sometimes both in one motion (so if your cut misses you can get the opponent in the followup thrust). Also, in China they apparently trained boxing and wrestling first before moving on to weapons, although generals writing at the time say boxing is only useful as a way of getting the troops into the right mindset to kill their enemies without hesitation. Interestingly, the Japanese did the opposite, training weapons first and then hand to hand striking, precisely because punching someone is only useful once you get disarmed. Both cultures practiced cutting targets to learn edge alignment as well. But really, you are expected to learn the proper bind techniques by drilling them over and over and over, so that there is no need for sharp training. You get to a point where you will probably be doing it with blunts even though they don't behave the same as sharps.

It should also be noted that the stick fighting systems that you famously see in the Philipines and other parts of southeast Asia aren't actually stick fighting systems at all. The stick was simply a training tool for learning how to fight with knives and swords, which tended to be short in that part of the world due to the jungle environment. All tools conform to the environment they come from, after all. It also explains a lot of the close in stick techniques which really don't look all that plausible when you treat the stick as a stick instead of a knife. Assume it has a sharp edge, on the other hand, and those drills start to make a lot more sense. So the progression of training there is the same now as ever-- hand to hand, then with sticks. Emphasis isn't on the bind so much as controlling your opponent's hands with close in movements akin to grappling or wing chun.

Then there is Africa. Apparently, a lot of cultures transmitted swordsmanship knowledge through dance. Think of capoeira with a knife or a sword in hand. That's not done much anymore, but that's legitimately the origins of the art. The kicks that capoeira is famous for is an adaptation for a new environment-- if your opponent has a blade in hand that's a good way to get your leg cut, unless you get the timing right. Kicks are still a part of African martial arts, but they tend to be low kicks for this reason. Its also the same reason capoeira looks like dancing-- it is. This is actually a great way of training the practitioner in the proper footwork, as you can imagine, and there are actually similar dances in parts of Eastern Europe used to transmit knowledge of axe fighting among the peasantry. Dancing can also be a way of teaching that doesn't look like teaching-- or even seem like it to the person learning. Wrestling is also a part of African martial arts, because of course it is. However, from what I have heard it seems like wrestling was seen as more of an alternative to dueling with weapons. Since most people in Africa didn't wear heavy armor because of the climate, if you went down to the ground in a knife or sword fight you were probably screwed. This is also why so many African cultures kept using shields, obviously. Oh, and then there is African stick fighting, but I don't know if that relates to sword fighting like it does in other cultures. Anyway, there is a great channel on youtube called Da'Mon Stith.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by LadyTevar » 2019-10-22 12:21am

Once again, PELL WORK is important. While slow-work with a partner can teach you how to throw a shot, it's no good until you can get up to speed. Practice does make perfect.

Start with a blunt weapon, and some kind of practice dummy. Learn to place the shot exactly where you want it with the right power behind it (and with the right part of the blade). Keep repeating that shot day by day, week by week, and soon it will become Muscle Memory. Muscle memory is a Good Thing - it means your body knows how to swing and where to target with minimal thought and effort from you. Muscle Memory means when you're fighting a living opponent, you see the opening and are throwing the shot before your mind finishes processing the thought.

However, Muscle Memory can also fuck you over. A good example of this is in the book "Dune". All his life Paul Atredes has been training with personal shields that "only the slow blade penetrates". When he's challenged to an unshielded fight by a Fremen, his muscle memory has him slowing his strikes at the distance the shield would cover.
Another example is walking up behind a PSDT-suffering combat vet when they're distracted and haven't heard you. Hearing your neck pop from a sudden headlock is NOT FUN.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by LaCroix » 2019-10-22 09:13am

@formless
It's not just a Longsword issue (I never trained that, so I can't say anything about it ) - I fight single handed saber - we get chips flying even with blunt weapons. We occasionally have to grind our training weapons clean because they are too chipped/marred to use safely.

A sharp saber would only be useful for a handful of training sessions before we have to grind it into a training blunt because the edges are too worn to be sharpened without thinning it too much.

I also write this from the perspective as a bladesmith who makes and services fighting swords. Training with a sharp sword is a stupid idea unless you have money to burn.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by bilateralrope » 2019-10-22 12:05pm

Imperial528 wrote:
2019-10-21 04:27pm
I figure it'd be the, er, officers is the word I want to use, but I'm not quite sure what sort of structure the city's guard would have, yet, and I feel like officer is too modern. It'd be people who've graduated beyond the usual means of a club, polearm, or axe. People seen as important enough to carry a sword
Still a good idea to question if a sword is a good weapon to choose. Or if you'd want the officers trained in something less lethal. Which is a messy question I've got no idea of the answer to.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Formless » 2019-10-22 08:38pm

LaCroix wrote:
2019-10-22 09:13am
@formless
It's not just a Longsword issue (I never trained that, so I can't say anything about it ) - I fight single handed saber - we get chips flying even with blunt weapons. We occasionally have to grind our training weapons clean because they are too chipped/marred to use safely.

A sharp saber would only be useful for a handful of training sessions before we have to grind it into a training blunt because the edges are too worn to be sharpened without thinning it too much.

I also write this from the perspective as a bladesmith who makes and services fighting swords. Training with a sharp sword is a stupid idea unless you have money to burn.
You do realize these risks you keep harping on would be a problem in a real fight or duel, right? And yet, people still challenged eachother to duels all the time, and NOT necessarily duels to the death. :roll:

Clearly the risk wasn't seen as that bad if people were doing duels to first blood with sharp sabers. Aaaand they weren't actually that expensive historically. In fact, swords never were, that's a myth. It only cost about 6 shillings for a good used arming sword back in medieval Britain.

But as I already said, sharp sparring isn't for cutting swords like the saber. Its for cut-and-thrust swords like the arming sword or even thrust only swords like the rapier. The problem is that you keep thinking like there is only one style of swordplay, when in fact there are multiple, and each has its own training system. With saber, you are mostly dealing with cut and parry systems, with the point often being a threat rather than the main attack with the blade. Now there were systems in the 19'th century that treated the saber more like a rapier (and redesigned their sabers accordingly), but from what I gather the training tool in those systems was actually the fencing foil and the epee. For British cut-centric systems, the main training weapon was the singlestick, precisely because a metal trainer could break and become dangerous. That's the weird thing about 19'th century systems, the training weapons hardly resembled the actual sword you would fight with due to the rise in the sport of fencing and the standardization of those tools.

Now think about it, in a cut-centric system the blade is constantly moving at high speed trying to cut the opponent. You don't stay in a bind for very long, if ever; most saber systems are parry-riposte. In a thrust-centric system? Well, with rapiers, you start with the blade pointing at your opponent and it pretty much stays pointing at him for the entire fight. There isn't much swinging it around, so the tip never gains any real speed. Parries are all about redirecting the point of your opponent's sword offline so it doesn't hit you, not about stopping or redirecting its kinetic energy away from you. In that case, using sharps in training isn't going to generate chips and flakes of metal, and the only reason the blade will dull is due to it scraping against the opponent's blade in the bind. No problem really, you can always just resharpen it to get the serrations back. With cut-and-thrust systems its a bit more complicated and debatable, so it most likely depended on the system and culture.

With i33, you enter the cut with a blow, but the fight starts from out of measure; the initial blows aren't really aimed at the opponent's body, they are aimed at trying to gain control of the centerline. Its an exception to the rule that you should never strike at your opponent's blade. For this reason, you don't need to throw a full power cut, certainly not in a training situation. In fact, throwing a full power cut can potentially give your opponent an opportunity to just go around your blade and just hit or stab you directly while your blade is thrown offcenter. Plus he has that buckler to help him trap you with. Hence why all later manuals state the importance of literally feeling your opponent's intentions through the pressure signals he's giving off in the bind. Its essential to all the German fencing systems, even the cut oriented ones like Longsword, and its essential to the rapier. Different cut-and-thrust systems may place more emphasis on the cut and therefore won't allow sharp training in the same way. But in any case, Roland Warzeka trains with sharp swords all the time and has not had any problems with his swords chipping and causing injury. And its all because of the nature of the fencing style. The blades just aren't meeting full force, and instead of parrying powerful cuts, you end up maneuvering it around like a rapier (albeit one that can cut). With a different fighting system, there are different training methods that you can get away with. Making blanket statements based on one style of sword and one method of sword fighting is foolish.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Feil » 2019-10-23 01:44am

It would be super cool to have martial arts equipment that lets you spar with full intensity just like you were fighting and not get maimed as a result. Although if you take away all risk of injury, you might risk losing some of the martial virtues you'd want to inculcate. Having pain is good. Not in a sense of getting your fighters to fear getting hit, but in the sense of building tough fighters who feel the pain-fear and the injury-fear and learn to ride that fear like a stimulant. In any case your drilling to sparring ratio should still be heavily skewed towards drilling, just like drilling to scrimmage time in ball games and drilling to sparring time in wrestling and so on.

My advice, dump the magic swords entirely. If you want a magic technology that gets you past the limitations of sparring without accidentally turning your medieval fantasy into a magical scifi, maybe get a magic crystal that your fighters can hold while they sleep that sends their sleeping mind to the thunderdome, where they can murder dream-baddies all they like.

Taking your current design would just introduce a host of problems. Force fields, railguns, cybernetics, pain rays, holograms, supercomputers, futuristic medical equipment, and more are all just a half step removed from your magic sparring sword. Just this one simple technology, unless you packaged it with a page of caveats and special case exceptions, implies facts that, if true, would catapult your setting from something that looks like The Witcher to something that more closely resembles Warhammer 40,000.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Imperial528 » 2019-10-23 01:15pm

The concept for these derived from existing capabilities of magic in the setting, applied in certain ways. I don't know if you saw the post, but I have shelved the idea on the basis that, given the existence of perfectly functional mundane methods of training that present little risk, these training devices add significant complexity and potential overhead without really doing a better job of addressing the problem.

The setting is relatively High Magic, particularly in nations whose societies were built up around the use of magic, of which the most powerful would be capable of fighting modern nations of equivalent size on equal or greater terms. However, these are in the minority, and are themselves highly dependent on less magical societies that surround them. What prevents this level of magic from spreading are the following: Magic is Personal, Magic is Hard, and Magic is Inertial and Entropic .
The first one creates a significant coordination problem: outside of projects that are beyond the ability of any single person to achieve, the effort required for two magic users to work in tandem represents high enough overhead that it generally isn't worth doing. The larger magocracies have solved this to a degree by creating rigid standards of teaching and doing magic, but this results in a host of other problems, such as stagnation and inflexibility.

The second prevents division of labor and skill. In the modern world a team of skilled designers can create something and then break it down into manageable parts that can be built and assembled en masse by people with less skill. The nature of magic in my setting makes this highly impractical. In order to actually create something magical, the person doing the physical work needs to understand the nature of it. So while there is some degree of division of labor, the workforce involved has just as much initial investment and overhead required as the people doing the design work.

The third one isn't entirely accurately named, but I haven't thought of a way that describes it as concisely and completely. Simply put, the ground state of magic in the world is to mimic the world around it. Fill a rock with magic? It will be effectively indistinguishable from a normal rock until you try to change the nature of the magic inside of it. Magic also behaves like heat, spreading away from areas of high magic and filling areas of low magic. If the magic in an object is changed such that it no longer reflects that object, then the magic will trend back to the equilibrium of mimicry, unless prevented from doing so. This same mimicry is foundational to the function of magic since with enough energy it can flow the other way, the magic shaping the material world, rather than the world shaping magic. The natural trend, however, is strong enough that as a material system becomes less entropic, the magic within it reinforces it against magical effects to an increasing degree. Thus, in order to use magic to affect the world directly, you have to first overcome the resistance to magic in whatever you are trying to affect. Because of this the majority of magic use is based around creating situations where a small amount of direct magic is leveraged to create a greater effect with the help of indirect and material means. For a quick example, if one wanted to create a magical cannon, it would be more effective to create a device that imparts magical force onto projectiles prepared to accept it than it would be to create a device that simply tries to project that force directly onto the target.

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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Formless » 2019-10-23 03:41pm

If I understand that third rule correctly, you don't have to abandon magical training weapons entirely. A better idea is to use magic to transmute a couple of trainers so that they "stick" properly like a pair of sharps would. After all, the most important aspect of your training is not actually learning to fear the opponent's blade and the pain it will inflict if you get injured. Indeed, practice with too little protective gear, and you will feel pain as the blunt trainers still have mass and can still inflict minor bruises. Simulating the behavior of sharps in the bind is both difficult with mundane technology and has a lot more value. Three ways it has been tried in the real world besides using actual sharps (which as I have explained is limited by safety concerns and stylistic requirements) is weapons covered in thick foam, serrated or wavy plastic trainers, and adding grip tape to your trainers. Each has its own limitations: foam weapons have a tendency to bounce off one another if the foam is insufficiently dense; serrated trainers actually lock together a bit too well at the edge and still slide on the flat; and grip tape has both variable results and does not last long before it needs replacing. And besides, of those three options I think only the serrated/wavy trainers would be an option with medieval/renaissance technology. A magical training sword on the other hand can perfectly simulate the behavior of a sharp, and thus become a very important training tool for anyone who could afford such a thing. Of course, if I understand the rest of the rules correctly, such a thing would be more expensive than the singlestick or the staff, so those would most likely remain the training tools of choice for your average soldier or town guard. Especially if that guard is using a spear or glaive, then the staff is all he really needs for training.
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Re: Fantastical Sword Training

Post by Imperial528 » 2019-10-23 07:17pm

Oh, that's something I didn't think of. Would be much easier than my original idea, too. Very simple enchantment to pull that off. (I say even though I haven't really codified all this yet.) And it fits well with traditional training, serving to enhance the experience rather than supplant it.

I don't think I will include this idea in this story though, not directly, since as I've thought more about things, this story takes place in a society that doesn't have much common magic. Would be useful to show the sheer proliferation of magic in other societies in the world, however, in a latter story I have planned.

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