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I have a hobby of writing video game item descriptions, usually trying to justify game mechanics within the flavor text. Elemental weapons are especially fun to explain in-universe. Lightning spears being created by people that have to fight against invaders that use full body armor, a fire sword is used by an executioner to instantly cauterize necks for indoor beheadings, that kind of thing.

At the moment, however, I'm having a hard time justifying weapons that freeze. I just can't see the advantage making an enemy's laceration, puncture, or point of blunt force trauma really really cold. Without a large battlefield advantage, freezing just seems like unnecessary overkill. They already died of the impact/wound, why are you turning the corpse into cold-cuts, you know?

Assuming that destroying or draining heat (either's fine with me. The lapse of physics can be explained with magic) from a struck or touched target requires some form of extra investment when creating the tool, why would a freezing weapon be worthwhile?

edit- I forgot to mention that I thinking of feudal era weapons and tools.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't it work as well as the fire weapon for stopping blood flow? If only temporarily. $\endgroup$ – Samuel May 30 '18 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by in-universe? You did not specify a specific universe $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 May 30 '18 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ I'm assuming you are talking about a cold-based weapon and not direct control of said element? In that case, you are correct in that it's essentially useless unless it is so cold that it saps the heat from surrounding objects, causing them to freeze solid just from the close proximity. But if it's just a cold sword then imo there is not much point to it. $\endgroup$ – Jason Desjardins May 30 '18 at 16:44
  • $\begingroup$ I fail to see how this is opinion based. Theres two options: you go for cold tropes, which the OP doesnt seem to want or he would have used them in fluff form, or you use it realistically. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 31 '18 at 7:55
  • $\begingroup$ Electricity may not be the best choice against armor:worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/48066/… $\endgroup$ – Richard Smith Jun 1 '18 at 15:14
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First a note on heat in an attempt to slowly get that myth out of the way. Random heat does not cauterize. Cauterization is a process of heat over time to get a specific reaction on the cells to cause them to clump together. If you have the stomach, look up 3rd degree burns and look for the bleedings and exposed Meat you see. I had a medical procedure done to me where they used an electrical cutter which caused a lot of bleeding (I was awake with a local aneastetic). Then they turned the power of the cutter way down and took most of the operation searing the wounds shut.

Second and more importantly for the question, cold damage is in many ways similar to burn damage. Heres an article about frostbite of almost completely frozen limbs: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3093920/

"Cold can destroy tissue directly by forming intracellular ice crystals or more commonly by interstitial freezing with consequent extraction of water from the cells. But the blood supply to the frozen area also undergoes profound changes. Microangiographic studies in animals have revealed that frostbite causes tortuous dilatation of the small vessels, as well as sharply delineated occlusions and intravascular tubular filling defects.", theres more in there to read.

Cold could be used to slow down opponents. There's the psychological shock and the physical reaction of the body. Remember the Ice-Bucket challenge that simulated ALS? Just imagine that, even before it becomes wounding, a cold weapon could have an incapacitating effect on the target. Then the weapon could slow by causing moisture to freeze metal armor joints together making movement hard and reducing how far they can move, and by making leather/skin less elastic. Repeated attacks that dont penetrate would still have an effect. Even if the target proves impervious, it'll eventually succumb to the cold.

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems Star Wars lied to me again. And, wow, I did not think about the physiological shock of freezing weapons. That does seem like a game changer and incredibly deadly if the cold effect was powerful enough. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion May 31 '18 at 23:09
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If the cold is extreme enough to make armor or weapons brittle enough to shatter, it could be created for the same reason as the lightning weapons you mentioned.

It could also be useful against a cold blooded enemy, especially one with a tough hide or quick healing that would make it time-consuming or difficult to kill. The cold would slow it down or possibly even kill it, depending on how cold it is.

If the ice weapon can instantly freeze on contact, you can immobilize your enemy, or maybe even instantly kill them. Either way, you'll have won very quickly.

Knives could be used by butchers or cooks to begin preserving the meat before they're even done cutting it.

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    $\begingroup$ Metal takes very low temperatures to get brittle. spartaengineering.com/…. Before that, you'll see many other problems arise. Ice forms on the metal, leather/skin starts getting stiffer, at certain temperatures leather/skin will start sticking to Metals, inhibiting movement and tearing at skin. All those would be wonderful reasons to use cold before going for brittle armor. $\endgroup$ – Demigan May 31 '18 at 8:19
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    $\begingroup$ This is weird, but would desert fighters benefit the most from freezing weapons? The sudden shift in temperatures seems like it would royally screw with a creature biologically. In cold climates, people and animals would already be prepared against freezing, so these hypothetical weapons would have less of a effect. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion May 31 '18 at 23:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Pinion Minion. Ofcourse thats smart! Its the same reason why I dispise a fire dragon in a vulcanic environment. Most of the time vulcanoes see all manner of fire-resistant creatures, so the dragon would be best if it uses cold to kill its victims (or non-elemental attacks). It also helps him to manage his biology when he's in the lava of the vulcanoe. So using cold weapons in the Desert is perfect! Not only will it kill Desert creatures faster, its a nice tool to cool down stuff like sand and use that to create moisture or cool yourself. $\endgroup$ – Demigan Jun 1 '18 at 7:20
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The Knights of Nigh first pioneered their trademark Chilling Maces as a form of recruitment. The mace was coupled with a special fighting technique wherein the Knight would specifically strike for the victims hand, allowing the cold to numb their grip and make disarming easier without permanently damaging the potential recruit. Disarmed victims were far easier to capture, and later brainwashed to swell the ranks of the knighthood.

Flavor is flavor, after all!

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    $\begingroup$ While the Knights of Nigh (Holy Grail reference?) seem awesome, it feels like smacking someone's hand with a mace would be disabling enough. Does give me an idea for frost enchanted handcuffs, though. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion May 31 '18 at 23:16
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If it imparted cold on impact instead of just on "damage" it would be safe to say that in a battle of attrition between armored knights the one with the cold damage weapon would wear the other one out quicker or even disarm them via numbness from the cold.

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If the weapon can create sufficiently low temperatures, then you could use it to make the metal on your opponents armor and weapon more brittle and easier to break.

If this coldness was instead applied to your opponents bare skin, like an unprotected arm, then you could freeze the area, making it effectively useless. With a more conventional weapon, it would cause damage but your opponent would probably still be able to use that limb.

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