Sunday, September 2, 2007
Arms & Armour: customs and weapons technology in Takshendal
The game is based on a faux historical concept, so much of what is available is based on modified historical models. The level of technological competence in the game roughly mirrors the early Rennaisance period (circa 1475) but with a few notable exceptions. Despite the image, there are no gunpowder weapons available (so no guns or cannon) and organized religion plays a lesser role in society.
Takshendal itself might be likened to an Italian city state (a.la Firenze or Venice) with its central plaza, bridges spanning the river and well guarded outer walls. To the north are river yards, dry docks and galley pens and inside the city are numerous districts, each with its own distinct identity. These contain numerous factories and workshops, tanneries, mills and the like, each controlled by various guilds.
The city is guarded, and law and order maintained by the militia. These are quartered in the large towers which dot the city walls, the central Citadel and the Grand Dukes palace. Quite how many militia guards there are depends on the season, but officially there is never less than several hundred guards. The Grand Duke also maintains a small elite force of personal guards.
The city militia is armed with a variety of hand weapons, pikes, spears, halberds, axes, swords of various types and with crossbows and arbalests of differing sizes. Several of the city wall's towers are also armouries, grain stores and stables and the militia maintain these. The militia wear characteristic yellow and black heraldry and are armoured with padded gambesons or occaisionally a chainmail hauberk. There is no actual cavalry but the militia maintain a sizable herd of horses and are able to mount fast expeditions into the surrounding country side. This has not been necessary for some time however and the common perception of the militia is rather one of indulgent corruption than military efficiency.
Any one may own a weapon but weapons are only borne openly in the city by any citizen who can afford a permit issued by the militia, the city council or the teamsters guild (an old tradition stemming from the need to guard transports). Noble men all wear swords, with the side sword being the current fashion (rapiers have not yet been adopted by any one but a few noted fencing experts). Soldiers and guards tend to use bastard swords.
The nobility consider themselves to belong to a seperate military class from the common people. In times of war, noble men will take to the field of battle with their own personal retinue of armed men. Typically this will be a force of less than twelve men-at-arms, but in some few isolated cases, nobles are able to field small armies of up to several hundred warriors. These private retinues are forbidden to bear arms within the city walls.
A nobleman wishing to fight will also bear superior armour. The common chainmail hauberk is often strengthened in a variety of ways, typically with the addition of plates woven into the chain or worn, strapped above it. Full plate mail is extremely expensive and thus very rare. The concept of the noble warrior as a 'chivalrous knight' does not exist, nor do nobles joust each other.
Duels, which are not uncommon, are forbidden by law, but tradition dictates honour amongst men is a paramount consideration and the militia usually accept bribes to look the other way. Custom naturally dictates that the more important the duellists, the higher the bribe. Duels within the militia or with members of the militia are considered a more serious offence with the death sentence applying to any one who kills a city guard.
Women are not actually banned from using or carying weapons, but society generally frowns on women bearing arms. Some few fire brand women make a point of defying this custom but duels involving women are so rare as to be unheard of. A man who strikes a women is generally held to be a coward and without honour. There are no women in the militia at all.
Note. The links are added only to clarify what is meant by a specific term.