The Weird And The Wonderful

Here’s a question for you.

I’m working on Eternal Battle at the moment, in between other things, and it’s coming together rather nicely. One of the aims is to be able to model any combatant throughout history. Nice and easy, you say. Of course. The trick here is to be sure that I’ve considered all the various peculiarities down the ages within the core rules – and this is where you come in.

Now I’ve got the obvious viking with sword and shield, samurai, Roman legionary and mounted knight. I’m already accommodating a WWI Tommy, Rhodian slinger, Scythian archer and 20s mobster. What I’m curious about is more unusual combatants. Weapons and fighting styles like Thuggee, kusari-gama, or the asymmetric armour of the retiarus. However, I’m sure I’ll have missed some.

What oddities do you know that I might have missed? What military curiosities should I be including? I’m sure you can think of something.

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49 Responses to The Weird And The Wonderful

  1. Patrick says:

    What’s the criteria for inclusion? Assumed military, but the mobster really isn’t 🙂

    Chinese tiger men.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Eternal Battle is a global skirmish game so I want it to be able to include any fight, basically. Military is an obvious starting point as that’s what most people skirmish, but I also have some ideas for using this as a core system for RPG settings, so pretty much anything, really.

  2. Douglas says:

    All I shall say is, please allow compatibility for those oddballs who play with 90mm figurines. 🙂 Oh, don’t forget 17th/18th century for musketeers and pirates etc, as well as the Wild West.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      The only issue with 90mm figures is how much space you need to play. You could play with them without changing the ground scale, but it might look a bit cramped. That’s really an issue for the scale of figure though, and will apply in any rules system.

      In my head there are essentially 3 “periods”: ancient (muscle powered weapons), primitive firearms (muskets, snapauhance, etc) and modern firearms. Obviously this is a very crude generalisation, but it’s a starting point. Within these there are many subtleties, and it’s within these subtleties that the settings appear. The 3 periods are just a thought experiment for my own help when I’m kicking the tyres, as it were.

      • Douglas says:

        I normally play with my 90mm figs on 5′ x 3′ table. When I play rules designed for 28mm scale I just triple the ranges and movement rates. My skirmishes take place in very small locales. See my Song of Spear and Shield playtest for example:

        • Quirkworthy says:

          I can see how that would work fine as long as nobody is relying much on ranged attacks. It certainly looks dramatic though. Are those pre-painted figures?

        • Douglas says:

          Yes they are; all my 90mm figures are prepaints, made by Scleich, Papo, Bullyland, Revell or Safari Ltd. I glue them onto MDF bases and flock them. I have Romans, Persians, Celts, Vikings, Medieval Knights, Musketeers, Pirates and classic fantasy races/archetypes like Orcs, Elves, Undead etc. Oh and cowboys. Ranged attacks work in this setup as well. It’s usually hard to be out of range using most rulesets at this distance, so most ranged combat units only get to fire once or twice before they’re rushed by melee troops, unless everyone is ranged like in the Wild West.

  3. jonathan radwell says:

    you should wach deadlist warrior as thay may give you ideas for the game

  4. Philip Waldron says:

    I am sure that you have included the more common armies such as Central America, Zulu etc. but have you included the unusual circumstances, Burning Pigs, Biblical Trumpets, and also the more modern “Two stick African Shield, or even the siege of Jadcoville Irelands Rook Rift.
    Desperately looking forward to the play-testing results.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Burning pigs is slightly out of the remit for a skirmish game. Good idea though. As far as I understand they were one of a series of specifically anti-elephant tactics the somewhat desperate Romans tried against Pyrrhus when he invaded. They didn’t work very well and so were replaced by a new trick in the next battle. A narrow window os a single day’s use (bar “training” accidents). Unless you know of a broader deployment.

      I’m not sure they’d have much use in a skirmish game, though now you’ve mentioned it I’ll see if I can squeeze them in as they are so bizarre.

      Biblical trumps are a siege weapon, assuming we take them seriously. Again, perhaps not very skirmish, but I do like the way you’re thinking. Offbeat is just right.

      Not sure what you mean by the “two stick African shield”. Not quite Nguni stick fighting (they don’t usually use shields), so you’ll have to give me another clue 🙂

      I had to look up the Siege of Jadotville. The wikipedia article includes the marvellous line:

      The besieged Irish radioed to their headquarters: “We will hold out until our last bullet is spent. Could do with some whiskey”.


      • Philip Waldron says:

        A very quick look at the interweb and I could not find the shield type made from ebony etc. however the shield is similar to the horn shields at
        They were used as both a defensive weapon and an attacking weapon.

        Elephants are not only Roman and Greek pets but are also used extensively in south eastern Asia, the Indians and Cham were particularly fond of them.

        A good source of oddities might be the army lists of DBM DBMM, a wonderful system which takes the idea that the armor of the time/theater was equal to the weapons of the same.

        A handful of 303s against a mob of AK47s and to hold out for a week without loss, can your game cope with quality vs quantity.

        I need a drink.

  5. Graham Bartram says:

    The Apache, the Apache fighting style is taught to a lot of special forces for a reason. Pirates? They have some interesting weapons. Aztec Jaguar Warriors maybe? Viet Cong? Nazi SS? The Mongol horde and Shaolin Monk are all worth looking at too. To be honest if you sit down and watch through some episodes of the TV show “Deadliest Warrior” you’ll have a nice long list.

  6. Teemu Hemminki says:

    I’ll try to share some of the wisdom from “Secrets of the Samurai” by Oscar Ratti and Adele Westbrook. Choosing of course the most curious or odd weapons. I picked some hopefully interesting parts from the whole text that should give at least a basic image of the weapons and their uses. If you wan’t to know more, please ask and I can try to look for it.

    War Fan
    “One author writes that the use of the fan “as an article of military equipment is confined to Japan” (Stone, 160), and the doctrine of bujutsu contains many references to the various types of fans which were used as effective weapons, not only by the bushi but by members of every class of Japanese society.”
    “This might explain why the small “fly-whisk” made of horsehair and used by Chinese generals as signs of rank, underwent a “drastic alteration” in Japan at an early date. In Japan, “feudal military leaders used a tassel of leather or tough paper strips, sometimes gilt or silvered, attached to a short handle. This was known as the saihai and acted as the ‘baton’ with which to emphasize command. We shall see that fans took over exactly the same function” (Casal, 57).”
    “The military class of ancient Japan had already known and used a war fan, apparently of the stiff, roundish type (wchiwa), which became known asg umbai… …The solid construction may be ascribed to its concurrent use as an occasional shield against a surprise attack. This will especially have been the case with those made of sheet iron or steel” (Casal, 70-71).”
    “Gumbai is still very much in evidence today in the hands of the referee (gyoji) who oversees every sumo match.”
    “Less impressive than the gumbai perhaps, but markedly more lethal, was that folding fan which developed into the war fan (gunsen) carried by the bushi in armor, and the iron fan (tetsu-sen or tessen) worn with everyday attire. These fans usually had eight or ten ribs and “were a handy weapon of attack or defence” (Casal, 81).”
    The name of iron war fan combat style is (surprisingly) Tessenjutsu.
    “There are several instances of victories won with a ‘war-fan’ against a naked sword, and many examples of men killed by a blow from it” (Brinkley, 139)
    “In fact, the art of tessenjutsu became so sophisticated (especially among the upper ranks of the buke) that “fencers who were convinced of their superiority did not deign to use a fencing sword but defended themselves with… such a fan” (Casal, 81).”
    “In synthesis , the tessen had innumerable functions directly related to the bushi’s professional preoccupation, combat. The warrior could fence with it; fend off knives and poisoned darts thrown at him as illustrated in Hokusai’s prints; hit a flying target with it as in the game called ogi-otoshi, which is still played today; use it to develop that type of general coordination applicable to any type of strategic circumstances; and use it in many other ways. As indicated in the preceding section, a fan was used as an integral part of certain formal swimming techniques taught in many bujutsu schools.”
    “Today tessenjutsu is still practiced by a few experts in Japan, while the ancient, heavy gumbai appears occasionally with other specialized weapons of the feudal era in the training methods of several modern disciplines of coordination, such as karate, aikido and kendo.”

    “Weapons of this kind became known as kusari-gama, and their primary purpose was to paralyze an opponent’s sword or spear with the whirling chain, while the sickle was left free to perform its deadly operations.”
    “Effective use of the kusari-gama obviously required sufficient space for the whirling of the weights and the ensnaring of the opponent’s weapon before the sickle could be brought into play, either to attack the disarmed man frontally or to hook him from behind with its curved blade – both of which were obviously not possible in confined quarters, such as a bamboo grove”

    There is a mention that axes and maces were used in ancient Japan, although never very popular with the bushi.

    Smoking pipe
    “As mentioned in part 1, smoking pipes of all kinds were used by all citizens as weapons. In feudal Japan, the typical pipe (kiseru) consisted of a bowl (gankubi, gambuki), a stem (rao), and a mouthpiece (suikochi, suikuchi). A pouch of leather or cloth (tabakoire) or a box (tonkotsu) accompanied it, and a pipe sheath (kiseru-zutsu), often highly decorated was used to protect it. A man’s pipe was usually six or eight inches long, while a woman’s might extend from one to two feet. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, however, many pipes were made of metal and were often three or four feet long. Several edicts point to the fact that such pipes were used in brawls, probably in accordance with the technical rules governing kenjutsu and similar martial arts methods. Some pipes, in fact, were even fitted with regular guards (tsuba), just like swords.”
    “Finally, among the most apparently innocuous articles of personal attire which (as was true of the fan used in feudal Japan) could double as a weapon of combat at close range in the hands of priests and monks, Gluck mentions the vajra, a Sanskrit symbol of Buddhist lore known in Tibetan as dorge and as tokko in Japanese, which was intended to express the idea of a thunderbolt (Stone, 652). It had prongs at both ends, and their number varied from one (tokko, dakkosho) to three (sankosho, sanko) or five (gokosho, goko). Often employed as a hilt in ceremonial swords, it became a representational element of Buddhist paraphernalia. Cast in bronze or iron, it could be used to block the deadly trajectory of a sharp blade, shatter it, or inflict paralyzing damage on an opponent’s vital organs, in accordance with the techniques and strategic dictates of kenjutsu and tessenjutsu.”

    …Can I get answer to my overlong Deadzone FAQ post now? =)

    • Quirkworthy says:

      An excellent book (I have a copy myself). Full or marvellously intricate details on all manner of curiosities. Thanks for the quotes 🙂

      I’m hoping to get some more of the FAQ done tomorrow, in between other DZ stuff.

  7. Kevin says:

    MACV-SOG Recon/Spike Team

  8. Brad Guerre says:

    I truly hope you are monetizing this in a fashion that will allow you continue to make games for us.

    This recommendation is wandering into stuff I don’t know well, and it might be exceeding the scope of intent; but since you are asking for scalecreep…

    What about the propogandistic idealized versions of combatants from the film industry prior to the outbreak of WW2? You wouldn’t need to counter it with their less-than idealized depictions of enemies, as all combatants had then own versions of idealism. …within the limits of a skirmish, it could be interesting…

    • Quirkworthy says:

      Brad Guerre said: “I truly hope you are monetizing this in a fashion that will allow you continue to make games for us.”

      Me too. We shall see next year.

      Idealised propaganda versions of reality would be something that EB does rather well. One of the core features is that you choose how heroic or realistic you want your version of the setting to be.

  9. Jack Trowell says:

    Some people used silk as a protection against arrows, it didn’t exactly prevent the wound, but the silk prevented the arrow from going too deep and enabled the fighter to remove the arrow without worsening the wound.

    I suppose that this could maybe be represented in a game as a small reduction in the chance to get wounded by an arrow when equippend with such “armor” (in fact you would still be wounded, but what might have been a fatal or crippling wound might become a manageable one that would not prevent the wounded from fighting) or some other form of protection of bonus when fired upon by.

    See among other things

    In later eras there were even some bulletproof silk protections made, but they had the inconvenient of being terribly expensives, and later gun technologies mae bullets to fast and strong to be bloqued by the silk :

    This could still be useful in a napoleonic or maybe even up to a first world war or equivalent tech level.

  10. Troy Baker says:

    Where are you placing this game on the “historically accurate” spectrum? Deadliest Warrior is indeed cringe-worthy but I suspect you’re going to hear it quite often as you work on this!

    Anyway I don’t think anyone has mentioned these:
    Dacian Falxmen (
    Sōhei Warrior Monks (presumably no different in game effect to a Samurai wielding a naginata)
    Soviet Assault Engineers (WW2 russians in breastplates)
    Napoleonic Cuirassiers (dashing cavalry in breastplates)

    …and of course the usual suspects: Welsh Longbowman, Spartan, Hoplite, Highlander, Ninja, Pirate, Redcoat… as boring as these guys are they’ll be expected *yawn*. Perhaps that’s a reason to omit them!

    • Quirkworthy says:

      As I said to Brad, the ability to set how realistic/heroic you want your game to be is a core feature of EB. When I get a moment I’ll be writing some designer’s notes on the core concepts.

      The core rules won’t list everyone, but they need to cover the rules for anyone to be simulated within the game (for when the settings catch up with them). I don’t want to have to revisit the core rules every time I do a new setting. That would be missing the point. Also, settings aren’t supposed to contain rules – that’s the rulebook’s job. They are army and equipment lists, scenarios, etc.

      The usual suspects are the bread and butter of the conceptual framework, though you need never use any in your own games.

  11. How about 70’s British football Hooligans vs Bobbies on the beat?

  12. Geoff says:

    Hey Jake, thinking of weird and wonderful from down under, what about the boomerang?

  13. Anthony says:

    How does construction equipment factor into your spectrum? Such as a forklift or bulldozer?

  14. Kyle Hotchkiss says:

    The oath bound Varangian Guard. I’ve read a couple of odd history books that reference them. Although the first time I heard of them I think was from the varangian flail from the new Ninja Gaiden, two words: scythe chucks. Or I guess kama chucks, which sounds lame, but is more accurate for the sake is imagery. I also doubt they used any non traditional weapons, they were very stern in their traditions and rituals when guarding the byzantine emperors. John Ringo had a series with them as well. They were convinced that the only way to get to heaven was to die a warriors death (valhalla, vikings, einherjar, etc.) Do they immediately ate up any amount of war craft they could from the protagonist (a navy SEAL ). So he ends up leading a group of blood hungry Vikings, armed with ancient axes and assault rifles across Czechoslovakia. Mountain tigers or something was what they named their unit. And apparently they used the same flower that is referenced in band of brothers (the flower that only grows on the top of tall mountains, if you climb to pick it it says you’re a true warrior.) ….yeah, they put it in beer. It was luke warm as a series, and I haven’t read it in awhile, but at least it helps me remember the varangian guard.

  15. Interesting project for sure.

    Well lets look at the earliest temporal bounding of your designs scope. The earliest conflicts would probably have been Homo Sapiens in conflict with Homo Erectus or Neanderthals. Homo Sapiens would have the advantage of throwing spears, slings or spear throwers but would be physically much weaker than the other two species. Neanderthals would use spears and flint knives whilst Erectus, the physically largest and strongest would use flint knives.

    So there are 3 archetypes for you from the dawn of warfare even if only one of them is strictly human.

    • Quirkworthy says:

      We’re into the land of conjecture here, and no mistake. Then again, I’ve already said that I’ll be including fantasy and SF as well as historical, so early forms of human and proto-human are welcome too. I was aways rather intrigued by the various interpretations of early humans, and am sure there is a game or two in there. You can’t really be wrong either as the consensus about what actually happened moves all the time 🙂

      Are there many models out there? I can think of a few “caveman” ranges, and without checking I’d expect them to be going for heavy-browed Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon types. The “anatomically modern humans” (as the modern texts seem to call them) that lived alongside look, as you’d expect, like normal folk.

  16. That Lee guy says:

    Aztec Jaguar warrior has been mentioned so how about Franks. Their hand axes were thrown right before contact to affect the shield like the Roman pileum.

  17. Travis S says:

    I am sure you have considered this already but Osprey makes an insanely good line of historical books. They even have a series on different types of warriors and such. If you haven’t thought about it and want to know more here’s the link. There history is amazing and they will help out any potential sculptors with the proper look for each.

  18. Kristian says:

    I must say Eternal Battle is one of the most interesting project I’ve seen for a long time. (I realise companies/people need Fantasy/SciFi to pay the bills. I like Fantasy/SciFi, not meant as criticism.)

    You say: “In my head there are essentially 3 “periods”: ancient (muscle powered weapons), primitive firearms (muskets, snapauhance, etc) and modern firearms.”

    From what (very) little I’ve read, primitive firearms were more of a psychological weapon that really effective – the longbow was far more deadly at longer range than a musket. The musket made a loud noise which was just as effective on it’s own – a bit like drums and bagpipes. (Didn’t someone say psychology was three times as effective as real impact? Napoleon?) In other words they are like big hats that can hurt you if you get really close. (Chaos Dwarfs anyone?)

    Would you agree/disagree?
    Why would you say these weapons are a distinct era?
    I’m sure you are correct (this may be the era I know the least about, which isn’t saying much) – just being curious.

  19. Matt says:

    Fatigue: is this factored in to the game? I recall learning that flails etc were excellent but energy sapping.

    Skill level: surely some weapons required significantly more training. Therefore the troops “cost” more. To “master” a weapon is a rare thing.

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