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Okay so in the world I'm making, people can condense mana into a weightless(or massless?) object. I was thinking of letting one of my character use a short sword that he can extend by creating a mana blade at the end of his sword.

What I want to know is:

  • Are there any disadvantages to having part of you blade to be massless?
  • Also beside the extend reach is there any other advantages like does it give you extra leverage or something?
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  • $\begingroup$ For reasons that I think other answers will elaborate on, you would probably want the massless portion of the blade to be down near the hilt rather than at the tip. That way, when you swing the blade the heavy portion will be out at the periphery of your arch and would therefore carry more inertial energy. So have the solid portion of your blade mounted in a small permanent shaft of your massless mana-metal and have your character expand that shaft through the application of his/her power. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Dec 12 '15 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ Can one still block with the massless part? If not, it would require special training to block with the right part. $\endgroup$ – Stephane Dec 12 '15 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ Anything massless will be traveling at the speed of light (or a bit less, if it's slowed down by a medium such as air). That's something of a disadvantage, considering that the rest of the blade won't be. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Dec 12 '15 at 17:47
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    $\begingroup$ Like in terms of "masslessness" I was thinking it would be like the blade part of a lightsaber except its not plasma and is just a solid construct that cuts like a normal blade. $\endgroup$ – user1804234 Dec 12 '15 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps you should describe it as "non-relativistic", rather than just "massless". $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Dec 12 '15 at 18:12
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One advantage of having a long massless sword is that it would be a lot more agile than a normal heavy sword of the same length.
A story I remember involved the crusades, where a knight would go in with his big, heavy sword, swing at a Turk who would deflect it with his much lighter and faster scimitar, and then get inside the swing to attack.

Another advantage is that with enough mana there isn't an upper limit on length, so using it against cavalry would be a lot better. Especially if you could dissolve the blade and then reform it, and not have to worry about pulling it from an enemy or having it yanked from your hands.

The "blade" would never get dull, and there doesn't have to be a limit on how thin the blade is. This lets you have a blade thickness that approaches zero, meaning you can have something like a monomolecular wire. Something that thin would pretty much ignore any armor, flesh, and bone that it passed through, providing an infinitely sharp cutting edge.

Lastly, the blade could have a variable shape, so you could form a hook to pull away shields or yank away swords, then straight to slice and dice, and then wide to block arrows.
It could all happen faster than an opponent would be able to react to.

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Moving away from the physics-based problem, here are some advantages I could see in a mana extension for a weapon:

  • This mana part is tied to the will of the wielder, so it's only solid against the targets they explicitly choose. This means that a "long" weapon can be used in close quarters and go through solid objects and still hurt the target. Similarly, in crowded battles, the weapon would prevent "friendly fire".
  • An extension of this idea would be a weapon that ignores armor. If this was possible, warriors would probably have mana layers for their armors, that they would have to maintain, so a hit could become a conflict of wills.
  • The weapon can become a conduit for magic, for casting instant spells at someone touched by the mana extension or for draining them of their powers. Conversely, it could become a conduit that enemies use to affect the wielder, so he would need special training to avoid this.
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  • $\begingroup$ +1 Very nice extension of a sci-fi weapon into a complete system of magic with attack and defence techniques, opportunities and hidden dangers. $\endgroup$ – Henry Taylor Dec 12 '15 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ very interesting idea, though I hadn't intended it to be a skill that many people could and I feel like it might be overpowered if only my mc and a few other character use it. Though I really like the idea of a mana sword that only hurt things you wanted it to hurt. $\endgroup$ – user1804234 Dec 12 '15 at 18:33
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The biggest disadvantage lies in the weight difference between the swords that are wielded. Let's assume our character is used to the Black Prince Short Sword and encounters an enemy with a 12th Century Crusader Holy Sword

Even if our hero increases his blade to match the length (and we assume that the mana extension sticks to his sword), there's still the weight difference. Now, it's only 2lb, so you might scoff at this. But take a look at this saber sparring session. The advantage of our enemy is going to increase due to his heavier hits. This will tire our hero, making him an easier target for the enemy.

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It depends on the way you fight. Some styles, particularly those of heavy sabers depend a great deal on the momentum of the blade so that, when the blade impacts, it hits with more force. These styles would do very poorly with a weapon extended without additional mass (or a very small amount of mass, to avoid the physics questions about whether something can have no mass). Other styles depend very little on momentum, or none at all. For example, a rapier or fencing foil is almost entirely designed to do thrusts and slices using the strength of your muscles rather than the momentum of the blade. For these weapons, a massless/low mass extension would not cause any problems, and may have some very useful benefits.

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