3
$\begingroup$

What kind of sword/s might orcs use? Specifically what kind of sword/s might they use that also fits their characterization as brutal, somewhat savage, warriors. While still being practical, realistic and capable of getting the job done.

Criteria:

  • Must be, or be closely based on, a real sword.
  • Work well against different armors, if it works the best vs specific armors, you must provided an explanation for why this fits for orcs.

My orcs while brutish, and generally inclined as a culture to be lazy, are still formidable warriors and while their weapons are not as finely crafted as the greatest works of men, elves or dwarves, still suffice; their weapons aren't the best but not the worst either.

They spend much time on inter tribal warfare and the occasional raiding of human farms and villages. They are semi-organized at the best, depending on the leader, and generally resemble a mob of jostling warriors all trying to get at the enemy. Despite this they can manage be clever and pull of tactically smart moves.

$\endgroup$

closed as primarily opinion-based by JBH, sphennings, Aify, dot_Sp0T, James Jul 18 '18 at 6:06

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Could you provide what characteristics are different between humans and orcs, technology level, and what kind of troops they are fighting? $\endgroup$ – Crettig Jul 17 '18 at 0:29
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Actually, if a human were a brutal, savage warrior, what would be the preferred sword? This is very difficult (if not impossible) to answer as evidenced by the vast array of swords (edged fighting implements) created by Man throughout time. You need to help us out by providing better critera by which you will judge the best answer. It would also help if you explained what research you've done and why that research hasn't proven fruitful. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 17 '18 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ We could also use a detailed explanation of what your orcs are like. Smart/dumb, organized/chaotic, cultured/barbarians, family-oriented/magic-created, etc. The more detail the better. $\endgroup$ – JBH Jul 17 '18 at 0:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I would argue that if you are looking for a weapon that deals with armor effectively then you are not looking for a sword at all. Ideally if you want to deal with armor you want poleaxes, these give you range, leverage and versatility in addition to their lethality. Other weapons that work well against armor include war picks and hammers, maces and flails. Even a humble ax will fare better against armor than a sword however an ax still won't do much against proper plate or scale armor $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Jul 17 '18 at 19:04
  • $\begingroup$ There is really not enough information here for any one answer to be considered better than another. Please provide the criteria on which you would award your selection to an answer. Without that, all the answers are equally good. You should probably provide some more details about the orcs as well...are they stronger, faster, taller etc etc etc. $\endgroup$ – James Jul 18 '18 at 6:07
10
$\begingroup$

Orks are described as thuggish creatures with apparently limited organizational skill or faculty for tactics, strategy or even advanced logistics, except for what evil wizards provide. In other words, fantasy cannon fodder.

Since the classical depiction is of them simply coming at you in a zerg rush, the weapons would not be very sophisticated, but need to be both simple to manufacture, use and capable of working against a wide variety of targets.

I would nominate a Falchion.

Falchion

Example of a Falchion from the 15th century

This is a relatively heavy, single edged blade generally thicker towards the end rather than the hilt, weighted for a "chopping" action rather than slicing or stabbing. It provides the ability to slice or hack through many types of armour or shields, beat down sword parries and otherwise simply allow the user to overwhelm opponents. This would be very good against peasant levies, dismounted men at arms, reasonably good at dealing with shield walls and even beating down pike hedges.

A skilled swordsman using a falchion is likely to be evenly matched against most other types of weapons (and in a large mass of orcs, there is likely a number who have developed skill at using the weapons).

The other advantage of a falchion is that it seems relatively simple to forge, so large numbers can be made for large raiding parties or even armies of orcs. Depending on the logistical skills of the evil wizard, making and maintaining large numbers of these sorts of swords would allow building large armies at relatively low costs.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ How heavy is a falchion compared to other types of one handed swords? $\endgroup$ – Daron Jul 17 '18 at 13:27
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A reminder: falchions were not like battle axes. $\endgroup$ – walrus Jul 17 '18 at 14:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ agree with @walrus, falchions are indeed a good chopping weapon but it is still a sword and swords are never the best choice for dealing with armored opponents, you are not going to cut steel with steel $\endgroup$ – BKlassen Jul 17 '18 at 18:51
  • $\begingroup$ A falchion by design is a very sophisticated weapon. It took about 2000 years for this design to reach where it is through use and modification and further use. If some kind of overlord can dictate what gets manufactured then this is a great weapon. If the orcs are just tribal and uneducated, then this might be a little out of their ability to invent and reliably make. $\endgroup$ – Tyler S. Loeper Jul 18 '18 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ Hence the note about the Evil Wizard providing the logistical support. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Jul 19 '18 at 0:20
8
$\begingroup$

Macuahuitl

https://www.michtoy.com/item-MRN-AZT042-Aztec_Eagle_Warrior_Defending_with_Macuahuitl.html toy aztec warrior with macuahuitl

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macuahuitl

The maquahuitl... was a common weapon used by the Aztec military forces and other cultures of central Mexico. It was noted during the 16th-century Spanish conquest of the region.... Its sides are embedded with prismatic blades traditionally made from obsidian; obsidian is capable of producing an edge sharper than high-quality steel razor blades. It was capable of inflicting serious lacerations from the rows of obsidian blades embedded in its sides. These could be knapped into blades or spikes, or into a circular design that looked like scales.[6] The maquahuitl is not a sword or a club, although it approximates a European broadsword.

Reason this would be good for orcs:

1: It is a sword, sort of, but different enough that it sets the orcs apart. It has a primitive vibe.

2: It is easy to scale up if you are very big.

3: The original Aztec version used sharpened obsidian. The orcs will use whatever is handy. Flint. Sharp bits of scavenged metal. Or teeth - here are some Polynesian shark tooth swords which are basically macuahuitls.
http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showthread.php?t=2933

shark tooth swords

Orcs mix and match the sharp bits according to availability and aesthetics. When you notice some of your sharp bits have been left in an enemy, replace them with other sharp bits you have handy. This will result in a badass weapon with a variety of sharp things along the edge. Orcs like the variegated look and when things are slow they compare their "collections" and trade good pieces. Maybe an orc will trade with you if you have some good ones?

4: Economy: using various sharp bits of metal as your edge means it is much easier to make and maintain a macuahuitl than a sword. To make a sword you need a single long piece of steel and a forge and charcoal and a smith with some skill. Who has all that? To make a macuahuitl you need a big stick and sharp pieces. If you obtain pieces of metal, great - you can sharpen them up yourself with a stone and jam them in there. If your sword breaks you need to bring it back to the smith. If your macuahuitl breaks, you can salvage the sharp bits and put them onto a new stick - good to go!

$\endgroup$
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ This is a fantastic idea with a lot of potential. Not only does it fit the concept of nomadic raiders very well, but it also makes Orc sword very sentimental weapons since they are so customized. I can totally imagine these weapons having meaningful symbols carved onto their shafts and charms hanging off them. Maybe tribal leaders could have "show" macuahuitl that are purely designed to show off their achievements and wealth. This has got my vote. $\endgroup$ – Pinion Minion Jul 17 '18 at 14:41
7
$\begingroup$

enter image description here

The Uruk-Hai sword from the Lord of the Rings movies is actually a great realistic and practical weapon derived mainly from the Indian Khanda sword with added polearm capability. It's a fairly straightforward design that shouldn't be hard to produce in bulk, and its brutal nature fits your orcs perfectly well. The spike allows it to better penetrate armour and work its way through chinks, also it potentially gives the sword one of the poleaxe's main advantages: the ability to 'hook' your opponents towards you. If the spike bites into flesh or gets snagged in clothes/armour, your orc warrior can then drag the unlucky victim towards himself, possibly causing a serious injury in the process if the spike was lodged in the body. Said capability is great for pulling riders off horses as well.

The only improvement you really could make is to add a simple rectangular crossguard, to protect the warrior's hands/forearms and allow them to use the relevant techniques used in historical sword combat.

(Video discussing LOTR swords here, skip to 2:55 for the relevant part)

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I find the movie swords crazy. It looks like the designer read Tolkien's descriptions of orcish swords as "bent" or "curved" and put in a 90 degree angle, despite Tolkien obviously intending orcish swords to resemble scimitars, a word which I think Tokkien actually used at least once to describe orc swords. $\endgroup$ – M. A. Golding Jul 17 '18 at 3:39
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding If you're referring specifically to the orcish swords and not all the swords in general, you're right in that what we got in the movie is so different from what Tolkien described that I think they were going for something else altogether. In other words it's not a scimitar at all. However, both actual scimitars and what we did get would work just fine. The movie Uruk-Hai swords are actually quite interesting and clever because they're simultaneously characterful and effective. $\endgroup$ – nullpointer Jul 17 '18 at 3:50
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @M.A.Golding To be fair, the majority of the actual orcish swords are curved and crooked. It's only the uruks which deviate from that. $\endgroup$ – Ynneadwraith Jul 17 '18 at 13:43
3
$\begingroup$

Wood axes.

Whenever the orcs steal a sword it goes to the raid leader. The biggest strongest smelliest orc around at the time. Since these guys can bully the other orcs into giving them food etc they usually have more time on their hands to look after their weapons. In particular they rub black grease onto the blade to keep it rusting.

The result is all orc swords have different shapes since they're stolen from different places. But they all have the same dirty black colour from how they are kept. This makes them look cobbled together from whatever metal came to hand but in reality they're not.

The rest of the boys use axes. . . .

Swords are difficult to make. You need to forge a single long piece of metal and hammer it very thin without breaking or damaging $-$ sometimes a few millimetres thin in places.

Orcs don't have the patience or the metallurgy for that. Axes are much easier. You just get a lump of metal and sharpen it. A poorly designed or terribly rusted axe is at worst a metal club that you can swing at hard stuff like trees and people over and over again without breaking. Swords are too delicate for that.

But while we're on axes why forge them at all? We can just steal them during our raids. After all most villagers own an axe for wood chopping while only professional soldiers own swords. Roll into the nearest village. A hundred villagers means a few dozen axes lying around at least.

Note wood-chopping axes are NOT designed for the battlefield. A spliting maul can easily have a 3kg head and a hatchet head can easily push 1kg. Swords are usually between 1 and 2kg and have the weigh concentrated near the hilt rather then the head as with axes. That makes swords light and nimble, good for defense, while wood axes are clumsy, beastly things with no finesse, but you can deliver terrible blows with any hit that connects. Perfect for your orcish raiders!

A splitting maul sort of ignores armor at the cost of 'once you line up your first swing the other guy's already stabbed you three times'.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

A sword for strong, big, brutal warrior? Let me introduce you to Zweihänder.

$$WHY?$$

It has two cutting edges, works also as a pike or halberd. A Flammenschwert was a kind of such swords that was great for parrying.

The orcs may use them because, as you said, they are the raiding type. So the they just upscale swords that are made by blacksmiths in villages they raid. So not much thinking is needed. You just use twice the amount of resources and get twice as big a sword. You got two "small" swords from that merchant? Melt them together and forge one bigger.

How that weapon is good for orc? Because they have large force. Imagine striking an armoured person with a long blade. You have more time (because longer blade) to push against that armour. So either the armour gives in or the force for cut is transferred to the armoured person and they just fall.
A pointy end. You can use the sword for picking so in case of defending you have large range from behind a wall or shield. Or just reach that rider horse before he swings his sword and kill him with the same weapon.

An orc can act as an anti-cavalry unit, regular grunt or defender with the same equipment. So their role on battlefield can by swiftly changed depending on their needs.

$\endgroup$
1
$\begingroup$

Shadiversity covered Orcs in Fantasy Rearmed series so I defer to him. Though I love the ideas of Willk perhaps your world has multiple Orc tribes and clans where Volcanic Glass and Shark Tooth swords are used which would really add a new dimension to the Orc mythos!

The reason why they're using such swords could vary from limited resources/technology (as in our world) or that they are competing with people who use similar technology so had no need to improve their weapons until when your story starts which could give you all sort of possibilities in story writing!

What medieval weapons would ORCS really use? FANTASY RE-ARMED https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h-DPsxuHfM

And as bonus Shad then describes how to fight his newly armed Orcs in this video!

How to kill Orcs, Fantasy Re-Armed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Fk6ORK4dHU

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Please note that answers can get out-dated and the goal of Stackexchange is to provide answers for all those people with a similar question in the future. It looks like a lot of your answer would be missing if the links were dead, which is why it's discouraged to link somewhere and not include a summary of the most important points in your answer itself. Please edit your answer and make it obvious if this is a sort of "additional reference for the interested" that is not necessary to understand your answer or ideally summarize the contents of the videos in your answer to preserve it. $\endgroup$ – Secespitus Jul 17 '18 at 15:22
0
$\begingroup$

It sounds like the orcs you are describing would be very similar to the orcs or Uruk Hai from Lord of the Rings. Brutal and Savage warriors, can get the job done, understand orders blah blah blah.

If you want to portray them as brutal and rough warriors then go for a similar weapon. A Military/War Cleaver is what I found through google. Basically a rectangular piece of metal with a sharpened edge. Its very basic and rough and makes for a decent sword if you combine it with the strength and orc is usually portrayed with.

It can be used 1 handed or two handed, with a shield or without one. It should be great for killing unarmed villagers during raids and the damage caused by it would be fairly easy to differentiate from other humans and elves. It crushes armor, but is deflectable by a skilled swordsman or shield because it relies more on its weight to get pass armor since it can't be use for stabbing.

I suggest having a watch of Lord of the rings or Warcraft and see if the orc portrayal in those movies is similar to what you want. You can borrow similar style weapons from them and modify them to suit your needs.

$\endgroup$

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.