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I'm thinking about having an assassin for my fantasy novel whose aesthetic is similar to the grim reaper (hood, scythe). I was wondering if any civilisations have ever weaponised the scythe, what modifications and fighting techniques would be useful and any other suggestions on making this character.


marked as duplicate by cobaltduck, Frostfyre, Vincent, Nex Terren, Hohmannfan Nov 9 '16 at 23:37

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This has actually been well covered in this video

To sumarise

  • The blade is not stiff or heavy enough to make an effective cutting or stabbing weapon.
  • The whole ergonomics are wrong. A scythe is specifically designed to make sweping cuts at ground level relatively close to the user's body.

A much better approach would be to start from some sort of known military pole arm, there are a huge amount of meieval and renaissance designs to choos from, but perhaps the closest real worls analogue is the Dacian Falx which looks reasonably scythe-like and has real world pedigree as a functional weapon.

Of course if you are talking about an assassin it becomes a bit more credible that they might have developed techniques to mkae a scytle usable for either disguise or intimidation purposes. But it obviously does not fall into the catagory of being easy to conceal.

  • $\begingroup$ It could be easy to conceal, provided the assassin is disguised as a farmer. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Nov 10 '16 at 10:50

Different Asian peoples already did this

The Kama are the asian version of the bigger scythe we know/use in the West. They have been, and still are used to harvest crops AND are used in martial arts, e.g. in Okinawa Kobudo.

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Kama - Source: Wikipedia

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    $\begingroup$ But those are NOTHING like a scythe. Much more like a sickle. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Nov 10 '16 at 4:10
  • $\begingroup$ @jamesqf I am not sure I follow you there... They are basically miniature scythes $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Nov 10 '16 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ A sickle is effectively a scythe with a short handle, but it has a different style of use $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 10 '16 at 10:10

It could. It did. We, Poles, did it.

Read about Kosynierzy - name means "scythe infantry", more or less. For the best effect, you need to rotate the blade 90 degrees, so it will be in line with the pole. Scythe like that can be used to cut or pierce, and change from regular scythe to war scythe can be done by skilled blacksmith in short time. However, some were fighting with non rotated ones if they had to.

Note that this always was a weapon for formations. In one on one duel it's not really useful. It was used to stop cavalry etc, like pike would. It was decent at stopping infantry. Good enough, but not great, at offensive actions against infantry. And that's all.

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    $\begingroup$ Uhm .. rotating the blade to that degree completely defeats the purpose of calling it a scythe. It becomes more of a polearm. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 9 '16 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ It starts as harvest tool, ends as harvest tool and historians calls it scythe. And OP asked what changes are needed. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Nov 9 '16 at 20:31
  • $\begingroup$ I don't see how the weapon would keep either the aestethics of a scythe, nor how a 2-meter polearm would fit as the weapon of an assassin (whose job is to not stand out in public too much) $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Nov 9 '16 at 21:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AndreiROM, yep, as I explained in the last duplicate of this question, the first thing you're going to do is straighten the blade on the handle. You want to cut hit head off, not his feet. $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Nov 10 '16 at 10:12

Typically if you are talking about a European scythe it really isn't designed to fight with. If pressed, you obviously could but that is just not what it is made for. The blade will likely bend, break, or become dull before you could use it offensively. The pole of the scythe would end up being more useful in my mind, then acting like a quarter staff.

There are such a thing as military scythes. The blade is more durable and pointed to continue along the length of the arm. It still has the blade along the inside of the curve (think opposite of a saber), but at this point we are talking pole arms and not a piece of farming equipment.

Alternative ideas: Remove the blade and use it separately from the arm like a makeshift sword. Still has all the problems above but it wouldn't be so unwieldy. Could also use the pole then as a quarterstaff.


A scythe would make a very awkward weapon, although you definitely kill someone with it in a pinch. The weight distribution and balancing would not make it a weapon of choice for any army, however. Think about it - humans have always optimized ways of killing one another. Had a scythe-like weapon held some advantage, many different cultures would have adopted some version of it.

Sickle-like swords, however, have been used by certain tribes and peoples. The dacians used a sword which was curved inwards, similar to a sickle.

  • $\begingroup$ False. It was weapon of choice for my people. $\endgroup$ – Mołot Nov 9 '16 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Mołot - you may want to expand on that $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Nov 9 '16 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ In my answer I did $\endgroup$ – Mołot Nov 9 '16 at 20:28

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