The Writer: Weapons in Fantasy Literature

in story •  last year 


  This article is a brief reference guide to give authenticity to the characters, and give the writer authentic terminology to use when creating characters. Few fantasy stories would be complete without warriors and soldiers of some sort. Imagine the Lord of the Rings with out the armies of Middle Earth clashing in great epic battles. Its weird, doesn’t fit. Creating warriors and solders is a staple point in Fantasy Literature.   


  To understand weapons the writer must realize there is three types of damage inflicted by any one weapon.  

  1. Crushing – Clubs, Maces
  2. Cutting – Knife, Broadsword
  3. Piercing – Arrow, Spear

  It is also important to note that some weapons are a combination of two or three types of damage it can conflict, such as, the knife – it can cut, pierce, and club by using the handle. And many other weapons have the same abilities, making them multi functional in combat.     

Weapons Terminology  

  • Axes: Axes date back as far as fifty thousand years, used by Stone Age people made from flint and wooden shafts. Axes come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, and serve as weapon and tool.
  • Bow: There are two main ways bows are created. Self-bow made from a flexible wood, and Compound Bow made by layers of flexible wood, usually held together and reinforce by sinew and horn
  • Club: Clubs is one of the oldest weapons and used universally, a is an extension of the first. Clubs come on a variety of sizes and styles, examples, flails, morning star, mace. 
  • Dagger: The dagger is a knife and is a thrusting and slashing weapon, usually double edged. Used often as a backup weapon, and is easily concealed. There are many types of daggers and some made for specific purposes, for example, some daggers are made to penetrate mail armor. Warriors, nobles, and some soldiers carried daggers.
  • Javelin: Javelin is a light spear made for hurling (throwing), and can be thrown twice as far as combat spears.
  • Lance: Lance is a spear. Used by warriors mounted on horses, and couched under the arm when charging, by doing this it puts the weight of the horse behind the lance increasing impact to the enemy, causing a lot of damage. No other spear like weapon causes as much damage as the lance.
  • Sword: Swords are by far the most popular weapon. It is revered by warriors and soldiers and romanticized by story tellers. Swords are made in a multitude of shapes and sizes.
    1. Bastard Sword: It can be handled by one or two hands. Also known as the Hand and a Half Sword.
    2. Broad Sword: The broad sword is used for chopping and slashing. Three feet or more long. 
    3. Long Sword: Used for slashing and thrusting. The long Sword is doubled edged with an acute point. Carried by knights and soldiers of the Middle Ages.
    4. Scimitar: Slashing weapon. The blade is curved with a single edged. Popular in Arabic peoples.
    5. Short Sword: Slashing and thrusting weapon. Short swords are broad with thick blades, double edged, about two feet in length. Popular among many people because of its affordability due to its relatively soft metal. The blades were made to be thick and broad to give it more durability.
    6. Two-Hand Sword: Hacking weapon. Five to six feet in length, weighing up to twenty or more pounds.


  The reference material above is the most popular used in fantasy literature, the sword being the most popular, and some weapons can be traced back thousands of years. In this article I focused on hand held weapons. Weapons like trebuchet, catapults, battering rams, etc., require another article. Remember you are a writer, and your job is to write and entertain and there are no rules to say what weapons should be in your story. If you decide none of the weapons work, create your own weapons, do what ever is natural and necessary for your story. Be careful though, if the writer goes overboard the story will lose authenticity, and the story must feel authentic or the reader will know something is wrong. In the end however, it is your story, and it comes from your imagination. Enjoy that adventure in your head, and what ever it is let it be. You are writer, enjoy your gift, have fun, and create your masterpiece.    

Interesting Fact: The oldest weapon ever discovered is the spear. Archaeologists discovered a small hoard of well preserved spears dating back 300,000 years ago, most likely belonged to our ancestors Homo-Heidelbergenis.     

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Or, battle halos, like in my Angels series. ;) I guess they would fall into the "sword" category, as they're meant to slice, but you throw them.



Awesome imagination!

I never thought of a battle Halo until I read your work. Nice!!!

Thank You