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Discuss: SUSD Forum: The Great Pendragon Campaign


And here I was thinking scabbards were just to keep your hand free.


Well, of course a knight’s arming sword is considered a weapon of last resort, when your good weapon has broken or become lost - on a battlefield, there is rarely a time when a duelling weapon is optimal. So a knight would keep his in a scabbard to keep his hands free for his main weapon - spears mainly.

However, this is all based on the legends of Pendragon which do rather fetishise the sword, so it is not uncommon to have knights armed with a sword as their favoured primary weapon of war.


Just to be clear, as well, the romans are armed with a mixture of weapons - again, we are talking mercenaries which were once under the rule of Syagruis, and now a part of his mercenary company - who was by any measure, a Northern King who commanded knights. These men have never been in the legions of the Old Empire.


To be frank, all these figures represent marching soldiers in specific situations (maybe near a battlefield?), not soldiers travelling on feet.
This is even true since, as you can notice, none of these warriors has anything but weapons…while they should bear other baggages. Off course there are baggage beasts, but I doubt there were enough even for basic soldiers (like the Kerns on right of Figure 2).

You cannot travel by feet many miles per day, 8-9 hours a day, maybe even for weeks, wearing chainmail and wielding all those weapons as the Gallowglass in Figure 2 does.
It’s simply not human.
This is even clearer from last picture, where there’s even a pipe played for marching into war for courage inspiring.

Picture 4 (The relief from Marcus Aurelius column in Rome) depicts a specific combat situation (the execution of the barbarian prisoners) and, again, everybody is ready to war in a specific battlefield. They are not travelling.

By the way, this opens a huge can of worms which (directly or not) should influence even us, as knights.
I frankly doubt that you can travel 8-10 hours everyday with all your amours on and weapon in hands.
But this is a problem with every fantasy RPG.
We all assume to sleep, travel and eat in armours while bearing weapons.
But this is frankly not comfortable.

I confess that I’m ignorant of so much of the post-Classical evidence but, if you read Hanson’ Western Way of War, you can see how much evidence he collected (especially from literary sources, but not only) about ancient soldiers trying to wear armours/wield weapons as less as possible…simply because it is a bother to bear them.


I don’t think we are assuming this for Pendragon. I certainly haven’t been, and there has been two occasions of my characters fighting without armour. Admittedly, this was before you joined play.


To echo @Scribbs - I specifically stated in talking about how I am running this game that I will penalise any knight who tries to wear his armour all the time.


Spoiler: You are on the verge of a skirmish.


The very finest material to make a scabbard out of for the swords you carry is ashwood - and I don’t think metal scabbards would be used at all beyond decorative blades designed to be seen but not used.

The Woodcore is bound by leather, capped by a metal chape and bound to a leather belt:

This is one of my scabbards

Here you can see the wood - it’s a modern replica of a scabbard used by one of my ancestors in the crusades, made by traditional methods, it’s not an amateur project. This one is unusual in that it has a woollen lining, but this would not be used if the blade was for use, wool and a freshly oiled blade do not go together well! It also has a slider, more common in Norse scabbards, but put in for me so I can draw it from a wheelchair.

Even though the wood is properly laquered, it still swells and on a humid day, the sword cannot be drawn - this was the trade off that would have to be made, too tight a fit and sometimes you cannot draw your sword, too loose and it will blunt your blade every time it is put in.

The chape at the bottom is metal to protect wood and leather from scuffs, it’s designed to be easily replaced, it’s simply hammered over the bottom, but not needed to bind the cores into place, nor hold the leather on, but would be the only inorganic material of a typical scabbard, and as it’s entirely optional, I don’t doubt most went without the expense.


Will, that’s an amazing scabbard to have!!
But I frankly believe that most swords in the Middle Ages did not have scabbard beauties like the one you have!

Regarding metal scabbard: I actually dug a few of them, but they were mostly for pre-roman shortswords here in Italy, so a completely different context, not related at all with Pendragon.
It’s stuff like this (although I dug better examples than this one).

These scabbards are not completely sealed, there’s always an opening where the two pieces of metal are folded, on the back of the blade.
I guess this probably means that they did not suffer wet problems, but I may be wrong.

Another issue is that metal can be done to do scabbard but in pieces, especially for longer blades, like in a few central Italian 6th century BC swords of the Xiphos type.
I kind of suspect that with the coming of longer blades (From late Roman Spatha onwards) metal became less convenient to use and organic became more prevalent, but I guess it was prevalent even in Celtic Latenian swords.
I wielded a few replicas of Late Roman spathae and, to be true, people tend to do scabbards in organic materials. Whether we have evidence for Late Roman metal scabbards I frankly do not know.


But I just accepted what you said about our Roman mercenary enemies…I’m just enjoying some scabbard thinking crazyness!!!


Agreed, I suspect most were a plain wood core, or decorated on the wood itself

That would make sense if there was nothing organic inside, but a metal sword inside a metal scabbard is surely a recipe for a blunted blade? Are you sure the metal wasn’t a wrap over a wooden core, similar to viking scabbards?


To be frank I’m not sure of everything!!

Pre-Roman Italy is even less known that Roman Italy and those iron-scabbarded long daggers/short swords are diffused in a time period (7th-early 5th century BC) of which we know almost nothing but the archaeology!

The problem is that the near totality of these daggers (which seem to be ethnic identifiers of the “Safin” peoples…which later became Sabines, Samnites, etc…among the early /enemies/later allies of the Romans) are from burials. We do not even know if these were for use (as many people think) or pure display for the funeral!
But since I spoke with conservators I’m also certain that the amount of wood in these daggers is minimal to non-existant (unlike the scabbards of later Xiphoi and much later Gladius swords).


Another thing is that these short swords/long daggers (we call them “pugnali a stami” due to their handles) have short, triangular blades, more fitting for quick thrusting than for slashing.
So maybe losing the edge inside a metal scabbard was not a problem.


Would you have given me a tick if I was trying to bluff Saxons?


Yes, it’s irrelevant whether it works or who it’s against, if you intend to deceive, then you get a tick - even (as you’ve already learned) if you are technically being truthful!

Don’t fret it, get a high deceitful and your lies will become more effective!


Plus it is just a tick. You still need to hit the experience roll for it to stick.


Just wondered if my hatred of Saxons would make it seem less important.


They are after all lesser people.


It’s not a rule with any wiggle room - be untruthful or distort the truth, decieve or mislead = automatic tick, no modifiers


(This is all in character. All my favourite words are Anglo Saxon.)