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Historically, swords were most often worn at the hip in either a sheath or a scabbard. The purpose of a sheath or scabbard was primarily to cover the blade to prevent the wearer from injuring themselves or people around them whilst walking around. It also serves a secondary function of covering the blade to protect it from the elements.

A sword frog however, as far as I can tell, is more of a modern invention and is mainly used by the Live Action Roleplay (LARP) community. Swords used in LARP are typically made out of foam, meaning a wearer does not need to worry about accidentally cutting themselves or about their weapon rusting in the rain. As such, a sword frog does not cover most of a blade as it simply does not need to - covering all of the blade in this context gives no more benefit than just covering part of it. Here is what a sword frog may look like:

image shows a leather tube with openings on either end. There are buckles on the tube to adjust how wide or narrow it is. There are also leather loops attached to the tube so that a belt can be passed through the loops, allowing the whole thing to hang from the belt at a slight upwards angle

https://www.medievalcollectibles.com/product/geralt-diagonal-sword-frog/


So, my question is, for what practical reason might an adventurer in a stereotypical medieval-fantasy setting wear a sword frog?

As there are no archeological findings of sword frogs from the medieval period that I know of, so adding them into the setting would be very anachronistic. Whilst I could simply explain the existence of sword frogs as being a fashion accessory - something else for nobles to decorate or something to show that you own a sword, even if you aren’t currently wearing it - Im specifically looking for practical reasons to justify their existence as not every adventurer is going to care about how they look.

For clarification:

  • The sword frog may be either used on its own or in conjunction with either a sheath or scabbard - just as long as the sword frog has a purpose and a good reason for being there. For example, most sheaths and scabbards had either belt loops or their own belt built onto them, simply ignoring the in-built belt or belt loops just so the sword frog has a purpose is not a good enough reason.

  • Magic is not off-limits for this question, answerers are free to use whatever fantastical ideas they can come up with, but I would prefer if the majority of answers focused more on the mundane rather than the magical.

If possible, the best answers should include testing of their proposed idea (or a detailed enough explanation to allow someone else to test the idea), or any relevant experience, to see if the idea would work in real life (which subsequently would mean the idea would work in the fantasy world as well).

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monty Wild Apr 17 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ Think of what I imagined just reading the title. $\endgroup$ – o0'. May 27 at 6:37

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You use them how they were designed to be used, to hold a scabbard to a belt, or wrapped around the shoulder instead of a belt. They are not worn instead of a scabbard, they are part of the scabbard.

they were actually fairly common, but like anything else were a question of preference.

  1. What angle you wanted to wear your sword at, the less vertical you want the sword the more likely you are to use a frog.

  2. Frogs are also adjustable, which is self explanatory advantage.

  3. Most frogs kept the sheath more secure, especially with long swords by keeping them them from being able to flap around.

They became even more common when metal sheaths started becoming common, becasue the frog can hold the heavier scabbard at an angle. They can also move the sword into a lower position which is both more comfortable to draw for many people. A frog that can be separated from a metal sheath is also way cheaper than fitting more metal to a metal sheath and easier to clean to boot.

Sometimes frogs are integrated, which costs a lot more, and means you have to take the entire belt off to remove the sword. Others are designed to be detached from the belt allowing the wearer to remove sword and scabbard without removing the sword belt, this allowed the owner to display the fact they wear a sword even when not wearing it.

When you know what they are actually made for it becomes really obvious how to wear them. They were invented multiple times, Japanese swords used them as well, when worn with armor, although they were often complex cloth arrangements instead of leather.

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they were really popular in WW2, seriously search ww2 frog sometime, daggers, bayonets, and swords all used them.

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    $\begingroup$ Worth mentioning that a separate frog and scabbard makes cleaning and maintenance easier. When the SLR (L1A1) was the standard service rifle there was a scabbard and a frog. When preparing for a parade, the scabbards needed a new layer of paint while the frogs needed a new layer of lacquer - much easier to do with the items separated. $\endgroup$ – KerrAvon2055 Apr 16 at 5:48
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    $\begingroup$ @LiamMorris You mean why use a separate frog instead of a woven wrap, that is easy. Frogs are adjustable and more secure (aside from the over the shoulder kind), they keep long swords from flapping around every time you move. As shown there are also frogs that do not use a belt at all, the second image, which makes it easy to doff and don a sword. Here is a great video on the different ways swords were worn, you will notice the first and last 3 methods all use frogs. youtube.com/watch?v=_YT52eMWUsA $\endgroup$ – John Apr 16 at 13:43
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In your world, the sword wielders carry their weapons in frogs, either with or without a blade covering, because the finely crafted swords are a symbol of their wielder's skill. They also conduct battle in a much more ritualistic and civilized way than their battle leaders might wish.

When two warrior's fight in battle, it is to first blood/injury/disarmament, not death. If the lesser ranked swordsman prevails, then the superior-ranked warrior must relinquish his nicer weapon to the winner, taking the lesser weapon as a sign of his defeat.

Since ornate swords often have matching scabbards, the weapons are exchanged with their sheaths and the loser's cuts his own frog open so that he must carry his sheathed weapon off the battlefield in shame. The winning warrior, whose frog remains whole, remounts his sheathed weapon into it, then draws his new blade to continue fighting.

So the frog serves as a disposable scabbard holder, freeing its owner's hand for combat. It is made separate and disposable (not as part of the scabbard) so that it can be destroyed to symbolize its owner's defeat, without requiring that the treasured sword/scabbard pair be damaged in the process.

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  • $\begingroup$ that last idea seems interesting $\endgroup$ – Topcode Apr 16 at 2:13
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Because your sword has a sharp tip but not a sharp blade

Not all swords had edges. Various styles of dueling sword had blunt blades but a sharp tip, intended for piercing rather than slashing. The rules for épée fencing are based on this sword design.

This would make a frog-only carry possible, because you wouldn't need the rest of the scabbard for safety. A cork stuck on the pointy end would stop accidental stabbings. Of course it would still be worth having a proper scabbard for protection from the rain, so I wouldn't say this was actually practical - anyone with sense would have a scabbard. Still, it answers the safety issue.

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  • $\begingroup$ Smallsword. Epee du combat. $\endgroup$ – Daron Apr 16 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ Having a proper scabbard is also makes it easier to draw/sheathe your weapon, instead of having to stick a cork on the end or remove it, too... $\endgroup$ – Chronocidal Apr 17 at 10:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Chronocidal I didn't say it was a good idea, just that it might be possible to not accidentally chop your own leg off. :) $\endgroup$ – Graham Apr 17 at 18:09
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"Fast draw".

I am reinterpreting your question as "Why would adventurers carry sharp blades using something that looks like a frog and fails to cover the edge?"

I am very glad that we are talking about fantasy adventurers because, I want to be clear, this answer makes no sense for other groups of people.

Basically an adventurer exploring the dungeon has a legitimate need to have their blade ready at all times. They do not want to waste time drawing their blade and readying it when something unexpected happens. So they do not want the blade covered with something that adds delay, they want the blade "at hand" at all times.

They also do not want to carry the blade ready in their hand all the time because even adventurers need to rely at muscles that get fatigued over time. Which makes you slower. So they want the weight of the blade to be carried on the waist as normal.

The solution is a pseudo-frog with a metal loop that attaches to a simple hook at the girdle at your waist. Your off-hand holds the blade at the pseudo-frog so it is "at hand" and controlled and doesn't fall off the hook or hit yourself or anything else.

When you need the blade ready the off-hand just lifts it off the hook and brings it to your sword hand. This is a fast and simple movement since the blade is already controlled by the hand and the motion of pulling it off the hook is very short compared to the motion of drawing a blade from a sheathe.

Realistically since the off-hand would be reserved for controlling the blade this only makes sense for swords you actually use two-handed. Although depending on which side the blade is on you might need a grip change for the drawing hand, so you'd probably want a blade that is usable with one hand.

Or just a weird way of carrying the sword. Carrying the blade diagonally in front of your body would be convenient for this type of draw. It also would not be banging onto things as it would be fairly tight to your body and in front. And for most warrior types there would be body armor and a helmet to protect from cutting yourself with the blade. You could even attach something to the armor where the blade can comfortably rest so it doesn't bounce left and right despite being inverted with blade up.

This only makes sense when you have long periods where you need to keep the blade ready without necessarily using it. So only adventurers while working. Off-work the "big sword" would probably be sheathed normally or even put in some sort of a case. Most cities probably do not want adventurers carrying big swords ready to use at their streets or taverns after all.

The latter point is actually important. If you can carry the blade even when you do not need maximum draw speed all the time, it is easier and cheaper to just use a scabbard that works all the time instead of a special solution optimised for one use case.

The quotation marks on "fast draw" in the beginning are there because it is not really a draw. The blade is already at your hand and uncovered and you do not need to draw it from anything. That is the whole point.

Note that this is compatible with a kind of half-sheathe where the sides of the sheathe towards the body and along the edges of the blade are still there but the outside has been removed or replaced by a light weight flap of cloth or leather. This would not impede the readying of the blade but would also give many benefits of the blade being sheathed. So that type of solution is probably what people would actually use.

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A separate sword frog would allow an adventurer to more easily change which sword they are using.

A typical fantasy adventurer may have multiple swords, such as steel one for general use and a silver one for dealing with magical monsters. Many sword scabbards had in-built belts which were permanently affixed to the scabbard or had loops for which to thread a separate belt through. This would mean that in order to change which weapon you had at your side, you would have to unfasten your belt and either put on the new belt with the other sword attached or take the old sword and scabbard off your belt to put the new one on.

Using a sword frog means changing out which sword is at your side is much easier and faster. Rather than having to take off your belt, you can simply grab the scabbard and drawing both it and the sword out of the frog. Then you can place the other sword and scabbard into the frog.

My testing found that I can draw a sword and scabbard out of a frog, put them down and place another sword and scabbard into the frog in around 7 seconds. To unbuckle the belt, put it down and put a new belt on takes about 30 seconds and to unbuckle a belt, take the scabbard off the belt and put it down and to put a new scabbard onto the belt takes around 40 seconds. Interestingly, if i’m wearing gauntlets, it adds an extra 10 to 30 seconds to take off and put on a belt. In contrast, the time it takes to draw a sword scabbard out of the frog and put a new one in remains largely unchanged, only adding a couple of seconds onto the total time.

Further, if instead of just taking the sword off the belt, you also needed to take off all your potions and pouches on your belt to transfer them over to the other sword belt, this would add significantly more time on. The time to take the sword scabbard out of the frog however would remain the same regardless of how many other things are hanging from your belt.

This means that a sword frog could be a very useful tool for an adventurer who needed to change swords as it would be far more convenient and would save time, an important thing to consider as adventurers are often working under time constraints where every second matters. If it takes them 2 minutes to change out their sword and more over their equipment, thats 2 minutes where the person they’re meant to be rescuing could be killed or the monster they are tracking could escape.

A sword frog would allow an adventurer to sneak more easily than a scabbard

This is because a scabbard can easily catch on things and knock them over or bang into objects if you arent fully aware of where the scabbard is at all times. Even if you have your sword drawn, the scabbard can knock into things. Also, going down stairs whilst wearing a scabbard means it will hit off every stair if you aren’t holding it in front of you.

While its not an issue to hold a scabbard, if you were sneaking around with a weapon drawn, you’d want both hands on your weapon in the case of a two-handed sword or a free hand to grapple with in the case of a one-handed sword.

Using a frog instead of a scabbard would mean there is no chance of your scabbard hitting into things behind you and giving you away. Additionally, the frog gives you somewhere to put your sword when you needed both hands free, such as for picking locks, scaling walls or disabling traps, as opposed to using no sword holder at all. A sword frog may not be an ideal tool to carry your sword all of the time, as you’d be more likely to injure yourself, but it would be simple enough to leave your scabbard with the rest of your gear that you aren’t going to go sneaking around with, and just take the frog.

Essentially, the frog would be used to carry your sword for short period of time, such as when you’re in a dungeon, and a full scabbard is used for carrying it for longer periods of time such as travelling.

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i dont know is this allowed or not, but the sword frog sheath remind me of goblin slayer sheath from goblin slayer manga and anime.

basically its a universal scabbard or sheath where you can carry any type of sword or weapon especially when the other sword dont have it sheath or scabbard (usually from looting), because you cant use the same scabbard or sheath that your previous sword use because it maybe to long, to short, to big, to small, or different shape for your original scabbard/sheath to fit in perfectly and will hinder movement.

like when your weapon stuck or break and you loot enemy weapon to use, maybe because its far better than your original weapon, or because you really need new replacement right there right now because its better than nothing, or just a new backup or loot/prize weapon to the frog sheath for ease of carry while you still carry your weapon in hand, while still not safe from many enemy or monster in the wild or far from civilization or blacksmith to fix it or create the new scabbard/sheath. outside of price, you far better to use new weapon rather than fix your cheap adventurer sword anyway, its different if its godly sword though but if it already achieve godly level i doubt it can break, or dulled,or chipped even after numerous use, or its a sword made of good quality steel that unlikely for adventurer or murderhobo to get again.

iam sure you already know, the cons is it wont protect from the element for iron or steel base weapons, so this type of sheath is more for disposable or cheap weapon (that doesnt have their own scabbard or sheath) or to carry the good loot weapon for a while until perfect sheath or scabbard is ready, and dangerous to person behind the wielder, unable to ride horse since the point can accidentally cut or pierce the horse rear when riding.

oh yeah, also i assume this is more specifically for carry around your hip type rather than the back sheath/scabbard right? because if it include as the back scabbard/sheath thats another story, which i think you know already.

(i want to put image regarding goblin slayer, but its pretty much copyright material and this site is very against it, so i can only suggest you to read the manga to get what i mean, iam not recommend the animation because it look ugly and i dont watch it to know is it show it or not, at least skip to chapter 2 it already show it, chapter 1 is very NSFW and irrelevant to your question, and a reason from another manga name "goblin slayer year one" chapter 18 when he try to sheath enemy goblin sword to his scabbard and it not fit well during his early carer. the guy change weapon alot because common weapon is not indestructible and he face multiple opponent at once so no time to pull out weapon that got stuck inside the enemy body or the sword get slippery from the blood and fat, so he just loot enemy weapon right away to use.)

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A boringly physical reason - Your character lost part of their equipment in some event, perhaps for example, falling off a ledge in battle

  • The sword was tightly grasped in the hand
  • The frog was secured firmly to the belt
  • But the sheath came loose from the rest of the scabbard and was misplaced.

So the only options left are to carry the sword by hand and risk losing it too, or put it in what remains of the scabbard.

I'm guessing the frog has some kind of retention loop or strap for the sword too, to increase confidence that the sword won't slide out.

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As part of a "dress uniform"

In formal situations - such as when receiving a reward from the local Noble at court for services rendered - an adventurer is expected to be wearing a Sword. On the other hand, Nobles (and their guards) are less-than-keen on being in close proximity to well-armed individuals noted for their tendency to employ violence with a significant success rate.

The solution is twofold: First, a blunt sword, consisting of a decorated metal pole attached to a handle. Not being an actual weapon, functionality can give way to aesthetics. This serves, as much as anything, as a "badge of office".

The next step is, as you surmise, a sword frog. This shows off the decorated blade, and shows the guards that it's not a deadly weapon.

Of course, many adventurers have since discovered quite how useful these "roundblades" can be for delivering bludgeoning damage to foes immune to slicing, or non-lethal takedowns for capture/retrieval missions.

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Not many answers seem to address why you might use a frog without a sheath...

Since you said magic is allowed, I'll give it a shot. First, you probably want the blade and/or frog spelled so that the one doesn't shred the other. I'd go for the blade, since you probably also want it spelled to not rust from exposure to the elements. (This seems like an obvious spell you'd use if you can.)

So... why no sheath? Well, maybe the sword has runes inscribed on it that only work if they're visible. Maybe the blade glows blue when danger is present, which you wouldn't be able to see if the blade isn't visible.

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Why would you wear a frog and not a sheath? Real metal swords have recently become scarce in your world and most people are now carrying fake swords. Maybe all of the good ore has been mined and there is little left that can be mined economically. Or maybe a previous ruler demanded all the metal in the kingdom as tribute, which he then sold to foreign countries to pay for his frivolous life style, resulting in his overthrow. Because of this, there is currently an unusual shortage of real metal weapons that causes widespread use of fakes.

People continue wearing scabbards with wooden swords as a matter of custom and to fool would-be assailants into thinking they can defend themselves with a real sword. Fake swords have now become so common that people have recently begun to wear their real sword without a scabbard to demonstrate that they indeed have one of the remaining real metal swords.

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