Could we please properly separate the regular one-handed sword and the longsword?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion


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"Longswords can be one-edged or two‑edged swords. Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length." (CRB p. 281)

The description is entirely correct for the modern (and for Germans historical) use of the name. However, the stats and traits do not match that description at all. With a very long and relatively thick blade, such a weapon requires a long(er) handle, which makes it somewhat awkward to wield with only one hand all the time. That is why, historically, these were primarily wielded in two hands. This would also be the case for most small and medium people on Golarion, since most people are relatively normal, by our physical standards.

So the appropriate stats would look more like this: a two-handed d10 weapon with parry, one-handed d8, versatile p and maybe one more low-power trait.

The current stat block of the longsword is more appropriate for a regular one-handed sword. I would call it "Einhänder" (German, literally one-handed sword), which is not exactly great, but at least doesn't have the very specific cultural implications of the arming sword.

The description would be something like this: The einhänder is a sword with a short handle, with a blade typically measuring just over two and a half feet.


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I think the term you are looking for to rename the longsword is "Arming Sword".

While I kind of aggree as a sword-nerd myself, I imagine that the "Bastard Sword" is meant to be the actual longsword.

I'd like your version of it to be in game, but it's likely too strong, maybe as an advanced weapon.


Kalaam wrote:
I think the term you are looking for to rename the longsword is "Arming Sword".

I specifically didn't use that because it is a bit too specific. It isn't too bad, but "arming sword" really only refers to double-edged, straight-blade swords with a vaguely cruciform shape. That leaves out styles like the messer, earlier "viking" swords and so on.

Kalaam wrote:
While I kind of aggree as a sword-nerd myself, I imagine that the "Bastard Sword" is meant to be the actual longsword.

Probably, but the stats and to some extent the description don't match, while the description of the current longsword matches it exactly. The bastard sword is a one-handed sword that you can use with two hands. Meanwhile, the longsword is a two-handed sword that you can use with one hand. So a one-handed weapon with the two-handed trait is not thematically correct, even if it is a bit nitpicky.

I also really don't like the implementation of the bastard sword. It can just go to a d12 and thus essentially be a better greatsword, but that is another topic entirely.

Kalaam wrote:
I'd like your version of it to be in game, but it's likely too strong, maybe as an advanced weapon.

It actually doesn't compare all that well even to many of the other two-handed d10 weapons, so I don't think that is necessary. They generally come in two flavours to make up for the lower damage dice: one extremely good trait (fatal, reach, deadly or so on) plus a low-power trait or two moderate power traits, one or both buffing the damage. If have chosen the latter, but the lack of traits increasing traits gives me a bit more budget for flavour traits.

Versatile P on a slashing weapon is only good for underwater combat and fighting rakshasa, in essentially every other situation this is a pure flavour trait.

Parry and one-handed d8 are both fairly moderate on the power scale, but mostly cancel each other out, as you realistically only use one of them at a given time. If you are wielding the sword in one hand, you are either using a shield or have access to duelling parry, both of which also cost one action but provide bigger bonuses than parry. If you are using the sword in two hands, you obviously cannot use the the one-handed trait.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

So I appreciate sword nerds I like dabbling about historical weaponry. One thing we need to keep in mind is that these names aren't really for people who are super interested in historical weaponry and accuracy.

Much like how British actors have to learn "standard american" an accent that no American person really speaks, but it is what British people need to hear to know a character id an American, the Longsword is a name that a general population needs to hear to know that it is a sword that is bigger than a shortzword and can be wielded in a one or two handed manner.

Or the equivalent of technobable in a sci-fi story.

You ask a random stranger what a Longshord they will probably have a more concrete answer than if you asked them what a arming sword is.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

No. This is not a historical simulation game.


There is also at least one ooze that splits on slashing and another that has a reaction to slashing damage where you are gonna be happy not to have to do unarmed attacks d4 attacks due to versatile P


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Schreckstoff wrote:
There is also at least one ooze that splits on slashing and another that has a reaction to slashing damage where you are gonna be happy not to have to do unarmed attacks d4 attacks due to versatile P

The split mechanic on all oozes that have it is triggered by both slashing and piercing damage, so no.

"Zaister wrote:
No. This is not a historical simulation game.

Apart from certain D&D legacies like studded leather, most of the regular non-magical armour and weapons are direct copies of historical pieces or at least their more iconic versions. The stats, with allowances made for balance, reflect that. Which makes sense, given that we expect them to have certain characteristics based on our prior knowledge. This is already part of the game, not some foreign element like you are asserting.

The description and stats of the longsword do not match, therefore it makes sense to bring it in line with the rest.


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I mean the effort to reprint and restat the weapons seems enormous compared to the teeny tiny reward of increased historical accuracy. I'm gonna go out on a huge limb and say your best bet is probably waiting for a 3rd edition in 8+ years


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If it's a sticking point for you, why not just homebrew this exact thing for your tables? Seems odd to call for the published game to make a change like this.


Karmagator wrote:
Schreckstoff wrote:
There is also at least one ooze that splits on slashing and another that has a reaction to slashing damage where you are gonna be happy not to have to do unarmed attacks d4 attacks due to versatile P
The split mechanic on all oozes that have it is triggered by both slashing and piercing damage, so no.

Ah you're right but the gibbering mouther has a reaction only to slashing damage. I was about read to attack with a gauntlet when another player reminded me about the versatile trait.


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D&D fans greatly outnumber the historians. It makes more sense to officially rename arming swords as longswords.


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If this change was supposed to happen, it would have happened in the playtest or pre-playtest development phase. Needless to say, that ship has been blue printed, built, packed, and sailed. Meaning it was considered at best, but ultimately dropped in the final product. Why? Hard to say for certain. But based on the product listings compared to other products of its genre, it most likely was for legacy reasons.

Further, with Golarion canonically being a universe separate from the real world, the world we come from does not have the same histories or legacies that their universe does. Suggesting that they should adhere to a universe that only a fair few of adventurers would even know exists (i.e. the canon Reign of Winter protagonists), much less be aware of their histories and cultures, is a canonical and sensible impossibility, given both the canon events of the AP, and the lack of historical comparison not prevalent in both universes, even if a lot of publications and in-universe decisions are made as a result of perceived real life political viewpoints.


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WWHsmackdown wrote:
I mean the effort to reprint and restat the weapons seems enormous compared to the teeny tiny reward of increased historical accuracy. I'm gonna go out on a huge limb and say your best bet is probably waiting for a 3rd edition in 8+ years

Definitely. Unless the shield rework or something along those lines is done for the CRB, there is simply not enough stuff left to fix/clarify to warrant a third printing. This is pure errata territory, but I would have no problem with that ^^


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The benefit of historical accuracy is unimportant to the game and how it plays.

It's only a name after all. A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the history and the information (already known to me) but it simply doesn't matter within the context of the game.

This has been brought up in PF1, D&D 3.5, 3.0, and probably earlier editions too.

It's never been changed because it ultimately doesn't matter.


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Why though? In RPG culture the term longsword is well understood within its current niche. Renaming it to satisfy HEMA enthusiasts does not really serve them at all.

Even saying it benefits historical accuracy is a reach, because modern sword classifications are just that: modern conventions for the convenience of historians and hobbyists.


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At this point the "error" has been present so long, and so many things have based themselves on D&D and copied over the "error" that it'd cause more misunderstandings and confusion, and generate more "can we change this?" discussions to "correct" the "error" at this point than it does to leave it.

And I've put error and correct in scare quotes because, by the rules of linguistics at least, there's no error to correct; definitions are the result of common usage and understanding, so the "wrong name" became the right one.


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Yeah, modern classifications are only correct as far as a modern group decided it was. I, for one, am kinda sick of hearing about it.


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HEMA should be forced to adopt D&D naming conventions tbh.


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What the correct name for a weapon should be will vary depending on the expert you ask and what time period you are referring to. There is no real consensus because of this. If we changed the longsword to "Einhänder", it wouldn't be long before you'd get a thread like this that was complaining that "Einhänder" was the wrong name, and we should really change it to something else...


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Karmagator wrote:
"Longswords can be one-edged or two-edged swords. Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length." (CRB p. 281)

Ummm...

...
...

What you just quoted says edged. What does the edges have to do with handedness? Nothing what so ever.

Also a heavy blade does not mean a thick. A 3-4 ft blade is indeed "heavy" compared to a 1-2 ft blade. With the average medieval 1-h sword being 2.5 ft. The description seems fine.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm sorry, but before we get anywhere near the longsword we should discuss the buckler which, as described, is exactly the opposite of what a buckler is.

The buckler is described as a small shieiled that straps to your arm leaving your hand partially free. In reality a buckler was essentially a small pot lid you held by the handle and used to punch your opponents weapon away. Your hand is arguably less free than it is with larger shields that you can somewhat prop up with your arm.


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Temperans wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
"Longswords can be one-edged or two-edged swords. Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length." (CRB p. 281)

Ummm...

...
...

What you just quoted says edged. What does the edges have to do with handedness? Nothing what so ever.

Also a heavy blade does not mean a thick. A 3-4 ft blade is indeed "heavy" compared to a 1-2 ft blade. With the average medieval 1-h sword being 2.5 ft. The description seems fine.

I never said that the edges had anything to do with it, I was simply providing the full description for ease of reading.

However, you just made me aware of the fact that I was probably misinterpreting the description. I was reading the "they're between 3 and 4 feet in length" as referring to the blade, which would be ludicrous for a one-handed sword. That was my point, not so much the name, which is fine by historical English standards. Its only modern (i.e. since about 2000) and historical German that would have a problem with that, but that is something I can live with.

If the length was referring to the overall length, which is in all likelihood how you are supposed to read it, the description is absolutely fine.

Thanks, mate ^^
TL;DR: Nvm, apparently I can't read...


Karmagator wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Karmagator wrote:
"Longswords can be one-edged or two-edged swords. Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length." (CRB p. 281)

Ummm...

...
...

What you just quoted says edged. What does the edges have to do with handedness? Nothing what so ever.

Also a heavy blade does not mean a thick. A 3-4 ft blade is indeed "heavy" compared to a 1-2 ft blade. With the average medieval 1-h sword being 2.5 ft. The description seems fine.

I never said that the edges had anything to do with it, I was simply providing the full description for ease of reading.

However, you just made me aware of the fact that I was probably misinterpreting the description. I was reading the "they're between 3 and 4 feet in length" as referring to the blade, which would be ludicrous for a one-handed sword. That was my point, not so much the name, which is fine by historical English standards. Its only modern (i.e. since about 2000) and historical German that would have a problem with that, but that is something I can live with.

If the length was referring to the overall length, which is in all likelihood how you are supposed to read it, the description is absolutely fine.

Thanks, mate ^^
TL;DR: Nvm, apparently I can't read...

It can be interpreted either way, which may have been by design, now that I think about it. Players can have their fantasy or reality as they need, since either the bladed part can be 3-4 feet long, or the entire weapon can be 3-4 feet long, since "they" could refer to the blades, or the swords themselves.


I, personally, refuse to use the term "arming sword" out of spite.

This is from a guy that loves all sorts of obscure martial arts weapons and memorized their names. Unlike those weapons, the "long sword" is a fairly vague and loosely defined category. A Gladius is a specific kind of sword. Longsword is not. Just stop talking about it like it is. Nobody likes a Pedant.


This is one of those understandable, but overly fussy distinctions that 95% of people either don't know or don't care about. Conflation of longswords/broadswords/arming swords occurs all over (and outside of) the RPG hobby. Paizo has decided (as is not uncommon) to call the normal one handed sword a longswords and what is sometimes called a longsword a bastardsword. I suspect you'll wait a long time to see that changed and I'd just get used to it.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

What if they implement a hand-and-a-half sword that can only be used with a buckler because thats like having half your hand free?

;)


Virellius wrote:

What if they implement a hand-and-a-half sword that can only be used with a buckler because thats like having half your hand free?

;)

But what if I tell you that this genius idea can be improved even further? Forget half a hand, you could have a whole hand free? That's like fifty percent more hand!

First, you cut a small slit into the top of you buckler and the handle beneath it. Then you slide it onto the sword. Now, for the crucial part. You take the studs from you studded leather armour and use them to bolt the two pieces together, as well as create some protrusions on the edge of the buckler. This allows the weapon to really grip into your enemy, creating a weapon so powerful that you won't need that pesky armour anyway!

The masterpiece in your hand is now capable of dealing all types of physical damage, features superior hand and forearm protection and best of all - you only need one hand! One also cannot underestimate the pure psychological effect such a marvel of engineering will have on your opponent, as their feeble minds cannot comprehend its gloriousness!


Here we go again! :-)

Everything is wrong. Studded Leather Armor isn't even a thing either. Best to let it lie, I feel. Otherwise we will be be arguing about arming swords, leather armor and magazines vs clips until well into Pathfinder 3.


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Karmagator wrote:

"Longswords can be one-edged or two‑edged swords. Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length." (CRB p. 281)

The description is entirely correct for the modern (and for Germans historical) use of the name. However, the stats and traits do not match that description at all. With a very long and relatively thick blade, such a weapon requires a long(er) handle, which makes it somewhat awkward to wield with only one hand all the time. That is why, historically, these were primarily wielded in two hands. This would also be the case for most small and medium people on Golarion, since most people are relatively normal, by our physical standards.

So the appropriate stats would look more like this: a two-handed d10 weapon with parry, one-handed d8, versatile p and maybe one more low-power trait.

The current stat block of the longsword is more appropriate for a regular one-handed sword. I would call it "Einhänder" (German, literally one-handed sword), which is not exactly great, but at least doesn't have the very specific cultural implications of the arming sword.

The description would be something like this: The einhänder is a sword with a short handle, with a blade typically measuring just over two and a half feet.

As a hema practitioner, and fellow sword nerd, I agree with the spirit of your post. The weapons in D&D and pathfinder are more based on D&D history and trying to balance the game than on historical weapon taxonomy. So, in pf2e you have the bastard sword, which can be easily used in one hand and can't be used to thrust (it apparently has no point, and does no piercing damage-- a type of sword that probably includes an oakshott XIIa. XIII, XIIIa), and the longsword that can be used to cut or thrust, and then the short sword, which seems to act like most one handed swords hema people fence with in that it's agile and finesse and that the word 'short sword' brings to mind the oakshott XIV - XVI swords.

There really is not a PF2e weapon that matches the what 21st century hema practitioners call longswords, or that matches oakshott type XVa, XVIa, XVII, or XVIIIa,b,c swords. Typical humans can't fight normally with one of these and, say, a left hand dagger or shield, though you can momentarily use a free hand while fighting with them. I have seen really great athletes temporarily parry/bind with a longsword in one hand, but its more a trick (feat), where the D&D bastard sword is a weapon that you can wield with a shield.

So, I agree, but there are more unrealistic things involved in D&D combat, so I can live with it, especially since there are now feats to grapple and trip while wielding a sword.

For example, bucklers are not at all like historical bucklers, because you *hold* a historical buckler in your hand, and greatswords in PF2e do not have the proper traits, which would include sweep and backswing if you model their usage after the historical montante.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I've always wondered when I stumble across these discussion - what would you call a small shield that is strapped to the forearm?


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S. J. Digriz wrote:
hema practitioner

Hmmm... Never really heard of a practitioner of a Dutch variety store though maybe it means being a wiz at shopping for household goods. ;)

MaxAstro wrote:
I've always wondered when I stumble across these discussion - what would you call a small shield that is strapped to the forearm?

The closest I know of is a variety of lantern shield that incorporated a gauntlet into a buckler-sized shield so that you could use that hand while using the shield, a lantern, a swordcatcher and a sword... oh, and the shield was spiked.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

~Googles "lantern shield"~

Holy WOW those are cool looking. Why have I not seen more of those? That is probably the coolest shield I've ever seen. If I saw a picture of it without context there is no way I would think it was a real shield.

I definitely need to make stats for that at some point... maybe a magic version. Ooh, or an inventor version. Inventors need shield rules anyway...


It's a little off topic, but I hope we get all sorts of weird and obscure shields. Give us a pavis and lantern shield. Also, great shields and bonewheels like Dark Souls.

This is where our useless martial knowledge should go. The pedantic differences between standard european swords is boring. Knowing what a kyoketsu-shoge is the opposite of boring

Pointless personal story:
I used to do martial arts (Bujinkan) and my sensei demonstrated the Kyoketsu-shoge and it took all of a second to completely entangle and restrain me. It's a cool weapon.


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Albatoonoe wrote:
Knowing what a kyoketsu-shoge is the opposite of boring

But do you know what a Hiya Taihou, Zhua, Khakkhara or Cumberjung is? ;)


Karmagator wrote:


The current stat block of the longsword is more appropriate for a regular one-handed sword. I would call it "Einhänder" (German, literally one-handed sword), which is not exactly great, but at least doesn't have the very specific cultural implications of the arming sword.

The description would be something like this: The einhänder is a sword with a short handle, with a blade typically measuring just over two and a half feet.

There is a lot more awareness of the issue amongst gamers these days. Yes I wish that they would fix it up.

But there are so many different types of swords, and so many different cultures and it changes over time. It would be very hard to get it right - if that is even possible here - but surely we could do it better. It is just sitting in the too hard basket. Along with better armour naming. Perhaps it will happen when Hollywood starts giving us more realistic fight scenes. Popular culture is hard to beat.

Its just odd to see these highly specific weapons from different cultures come in when the basic western medieval ones are so loosely done.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Objecting to the established RPG naming conventions for swords isn't going to get a lot of traction. It's a question of RPG legacy, going back to OD&D in the '70s.

Without getting into culture-specific weaponry, we do have a nice range of swords: dagger, shortsword, longsword, bastard sword, greatsword. This range of weapons covers pretty much any sort of sword you might want, even if some folks find the labels inaccurate.

Most historical sources just call them "swords", in whatever language they are using.

As pointed out above, there are more egregious weaponry errors in the game. Bucklers should be held in the hand, not strapped to your arm, where they would serve little purpose. Slingstaffs are not oversized slingshots. I'm sure there are other examples as well.

This said, RPG combat is so abstract that further distinctions aren't really useful.


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Ok, it seems like my previous comment wasn't clear enough. This post was never meant to be about the name of the weapon. It was about the incongruence of the statistics and the description, or rather my erroneous reading of the latter. This was just one giant misunderstanding, which lead to both sides arguing two completely different points without realising it.

I read the sentence "Their blades are heavy and they’re between 3 and 4 feet in length" as meaning that the standard longsword's blade was at least 3 feet. Considering that the total length of the "average" one-handed sword (insofar such a thing exists in a historical context) was somewhere in that area, that didn't make much sense to me. The sentence would have made sense with the academic/HEMA use of the longsword, but the stats clearly don't match, leading to this post.

Or you could just read the text in what is almost certainly the correct way, i.e. the length referring to the total length of the weapon, in which case the whole thing suddenly makes perfect sense. But that would have been too easy ^^

---

And, yes, I don't particularly like the name in this context, but for an entirely different reason. While historically accurate, it is extremely generic, which is also the reason why it is so perfect for its purpose in this system. Because that is the whole point. I like the name in its more scientific use, as it helps with more accurately identifying very specific styles of weapon. For me, it matters if a weapon is an arming sword, a jian, a messer or a particularly long spatha. For the purposes of Pathfinder, it doesn't, at least not mechanically. I'm also German and for us the term "Langschwert" or "langes Schwert" (literally longsword and long sword) consistently meant a sword being wielded with two hands, even historically. Which is another point of conflict.

But that is a conflict I can absolutely live with and have no intention of forcing on anyone here. I'm sorry that I have given the wrong impression.

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