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With the advent of Legion on World of Warcraft, a iconic weapon from the series came back to the mind of gamers all around the world - the fabled Warglaives.

Warglaive Model

Those weapons appear in several games, sometimes using other names or with some minor design changes. Below is a similar weapon, the Faeblade, from Kingdoms of Amalur, which illustrates how those are supposed to be held.

Faeblades

More often than not, they are the coolest thing you have the chance of putting your hands on. They are swift, fast, agile blades that deal a lot of damage using all sorts of acrobatic strikes.

However, warglaives are a strange type of weapon. They have two massive, curved blades on each side of the hilt. The outer side of the blade has a cutting edge that is used to perform slashing attacks, and the two points can be used for quick stabs. They are also used in pairs, with one of those double blades in each hand for mayhem. At least in theory.

I started to craft a pair of wooden warglaives for a friend's demon hunter cosplay, and while building them several problems showed up in the design.

  • You are supposed to hold them by the middle part with just one hand, holding them on a horizontal plane in relation to your body. Holding them that way creates a lot of pressure on the arm and on the shoulder.

  • They are huge. each blade is supposed to have the same length as one of your arms so, when you hold them on a horizontal plane in front of you, they use almost the same space that you would use with your arms open, spread to the sides of your body. This makes swinging them with any semblance of precision hard. Like, real hard.

  • They are Heavy. The draft I'm making is just plain wood, but a real warglaive would have metal blades. I can't imagine this being anywhere near usable if they were made of steel. Combine this with the fact that you are supposed to use them with just one hand, and you have a way bigger problem.

  • Warglaives are finicky. Since they are so heavy and so big, once you gain any sort of momentum with them you are not stopping anymore, unless you let the blade go. Try to do a horizontal slash, and you end up spinning around like a oversized fidget spinner.

Still, I really want to make them usable on my sci-fantasy setting in a more realistic way, and maybe even craft a realistic pair of those for a more sci-fi cosplay.

I know that, as designed originally on those games, warglaives would suck. Like, really suck. However, we are the Worldbuilding community, and making sucky things work is one of the things we do best. With that said, I enlist your help:

Without resorting to magic and using modern manufactory materials and techniques, how one could make usable Warglaives? Keep in mind they are supposed to be used in pairs!

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    $\begingroup$ I was wondering how to turn a double sabre into something remotely useful, then I read you plan to use two of them at the same time. Two-weapon combat isn't really something you should do except to show off. $\endgroup$ – John Dvorak Mar 30 '17 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand the picture. which side of the weapon is supposed to be facing out? The 2 points? Regardless, that's the one of the worst designed weapons for human usage I've ever seen. Using something with your proposed size specifications on a human type creature is basically impossible to justify. I could go into the exact details and geometry of why but then I'd be writing half a book. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 30 '17 at 22:16
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    $\begingroup$ Probably the closest actual weapon would be something like the Chinese 'Deer horn knives', which... aren't used at all like what you're describing here. Still, they're curved and meant to be used in pairs. $\endgroup$ – Hat Mar 31 '17 at 1:15
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    $\begingroup$ @TSar If you shorten the blades then they'll work as a weapon. You'd have to shorten the blades to dagger-length though. $\endgroup$ – Aify Mar 31 '17 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Cyn Thank you! English isn't my first language, so sometimes I do mess up quite badly with my grammar. Much appreciated! $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Feb 1 at 15:58

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Wanna keep as much of your blade as possible while still being practical and dual wield-able?

Apply the glaive's design to Tonfa?

The blades merge into a single blade, with the handle perpendicular to the back. The blade runs along the arm and extends past the wielder's hand. The striking range should still be the same as the glaive provides, while making them easier to carry and strike with. They're more stable to block and counterattack with than the glaive too.

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  • $\begingroup$ That is the way Blizzard went with the Aldrachi Warblades, one of the variants of the Warglaives that appear on the game. You have a very good point there! $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Apr 3 '17 at 12:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsar Those are a little too chunky, but kinda what I was going for. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Apr 3 '17 at 12:21
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When I saw this warglaive my first thought was "belt buckle". But who could hold up their pants with a belt so awesomely buckled? One too awesome even for pants: WARLORD!

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On first impression you might not guess that WARLORD is too interested in the ladies. You would be wrong! And the ladies are very interested in WARLORD, especially when he wears his formidable warglaive belt buckle!

enter image description here

Careful ladies! That warglaive is sharp! Watch your eye, you!

Seriously: there are many benefits of the warglaive as belt buckle.

  1. Heavy warglaive is supported against gravity by belt, so strength can be used for maneuvers. Suspenders / lots of leather straps help.
    1. Hands stay free for other weapons, grabbing / slapping enemy, or gesturing.
    2. Skilled dancers (like WARLORD here) can use lambadaesque pelvic motions to rip, tear and thrust with the horns of the warglaive. Alternating left and right thrusts come naturally.
    3. Rippling core muscles and thighs are much stronger than arms and ease the use of heavy warglaive.
    4. Warglaive balanced at center of gravity allows much faster recovery after a maneuver. Also centered warglaive makes spinning, pirouette like attacks possible.

I worried use in pairs would be tricky. But there is no reason the second warglaive could not also be mounted on the belt, but over the very minimally adorned rear. I will leave to the readers imagination the anatomic correctness of WARLORD modelling this rear mounted warglaive - formidable indeed but maybe a little too spicy for the stack.

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    $\begingroup$ Now I really want a wairglaive belt buckle. Dammit. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Mar 31 '17 at 11:21
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    $\begingroup$ In Texas we have big belt buckles. I wonder if I could wear that to the airport… $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 8 '17 at 17:47
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Dual wielding

You don't for several reasons. Lets go over your first issue, dual wielding identical weapons. This serves no practical purpose. You can't strike at a target twice at the same time. Your weapons would clash so you're alternating. Now the speed increase between two identical weapons and a single one is small. Both using a single weapon or using different weapons would have an advantage here.

A single weapon would be lighter or could be made bigger, increasing the distance between you and the enemy weapon. Two different weapons would give you a greater flexibility. For example an axe to hook a shield and a sword to exploit the opening. Likely one of them would be used more defensively.

Because that's the thing. Why would you not use a shield? only if you wear sufficient armor to negate the need for it. But then why not opt for a bigger longer weapon and engage the enemy from a greater distance?

Dual wielding isn't practical. You can't aim and in melee its disadvantages outweight it's advantages. So that's your first problem with warglaives.

Weight

Now if we ignore that we get to the second problem, weight. They're indeed heavy. You're only utilizing half the weight for reach because you grip your weapon in the middle. I'm sitting here unable to recall any melee weapon that extends an arm's length in both ways.

A quarterstaff wasn't wielded in the middle spinning around. Sure there was generally one hand in the middle but the other would be more towards one end. Your hands continuously shift along the shaft. Extending the weapon towards your enemy. It's held in front, strike at the enemy, swipe at his feet.

So what kind of attacks could a warglaive do a sword can't? They look like a double scimitar to me. I would even argue the curved blades make using the underswing of the wrist even harder to use. It has limited mobility to begin with.

As you mentioned yourself, weight means momentum. I'd say you're better off wielding sucha heavy blade like an axe. Each swing swirls into the next. You don't just start an attack, you keep them flowing. That on the other hands kida requires you to have another way to block. Something like a shield would work nicely.

What works

So not to be a total downer, what can we get to work? Modern materials allow for a great deal of light materials. Aluminium with a harder edge? I'm not a smith or metallurgist but I'm sure modern material can reduce the weight.

Second thing I like is the handguard. It's basically a buckler. A small one but scale it up to the size of a dinner plate and it would serve you well. Now bucklers have been used offensively. A sharp metal rim gives it a mean punch if you strike with the edge forward. The curve even limits the contact point. Alternatively bucklers have been wielded with a dagger gripped in the same hand. Allows for a stab if your defensive hand manages to spot an opening. Yes this is a targe, same technique applies here, grip is a grip

My design

Make one buckler with short blades, one going up, one going down. Alternatively go for a broad push dagger on the knuckles. Either way, knives with a small shield.

In your other hand is your main weapon. This can really be anything from a sword to an axe to a mace. If you want to keep somewhat close to a dual blades weapon you swing around wildly, go for almost straight blades, like a katana.

Alternatively I guess you could made a dual tipped spear and a buckler/glove hybrid on your middle hand. Not sure how effective such a setup would be.

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    $\begingroup$ Extending this idea, if you wanted to truly dual wield this weapon, you could slim down the buckler even more until it was a little more than a metal boss. Then you would mount it on your knuckles as an extension of the fist. You hands would grip the handle of the two blades, one extending to each side. If you punched for example, you would be leading with the metal boss and slashing with the smaller side blades as well. I doubt this would be good for the clash of armies, but sounds like it might work for a highly skilled duelist. $\endgroup$ – kingledion Mar 30 '17 at 22:43
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    $\begingroup$ I dual wield in LRPing and I destroy anyone who tries to fight me with single blade. Admittedly LRP isn't real but there are considerable advantages to the second blade if you practice using them together. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Mar 31 '17 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ Identical blades? Because I specifically mention taht dual wielding different weapons is fine. Also shouldn't the single wielders have a clear range advantage with their longswords? $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Mar 31 '17 at 12:01
  • $\begingroup$ @TimB Not the least disguising which is your main hand, Inigo Montoya like? $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 31 '17 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ @Mormacil A pair of 42' swords. You can parry with one and attack with the other. Or do sequential attack sequences using them both to attack from different angles one after another much faster than a single blade can respond. LRP weapons are light and you don't need to get power into the blow the same as with a real weapon but the fact remains that within the constraints of an LRP system dual wielding > single assuming equal skill levels on both sides. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Mar 31 '17 at 14:28
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Weapons in games are notoriously oversized. Come on, a great sword that is 1.5 times as tall as its wielder and about half as wide? You wouldn't be able to lift it let alone swing it.

So take a note from that and make them smaller. Scale it down so everything but the curving blades covers the hand. That would make the curved blade only extend a few inches past your wrist.

This will keep it light enough for a speed/DEX fighter to use.

If you make the hilt behind the shield roughly circular then you can flip it from punch/parry/slash mode to stab mode. With the points forward, you may be able to use it to trap an opponent's blade (if the points are long enough).

For ambis like me it would be a pretty decent weapon, giving the flexibility to be offense or defense with either or both hands. It would definitely be faster than flipping a short sword so it's blade rests against the underside of my forearm.

The main issue is how to carry it when it's not in your hand.

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  • $\begingroup$ Isn't that what squires are for? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 1 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn, for an army, that's great. You know when your battles will be and can get prepared for them. This isn't a really great army weapon, however. It will lose to a shield wall. As an adventurer's weapon, I really can't see "hold on while I equip" being a viable tactic. $\endgroup$ – ShadoCat Feb 1 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Ha ha fair enough. Though I'd be surprised if it was the sort of weapon (at the size of the pictures anyway) that one carried like a sword. I can imagine a thick leather case strapped to the side of a pack animal, arranged and sealed such that it takes less than 30 seconds to get it out and ready. Or on one's back if getting to the pack animal takes too much time. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Feb 1 at 18:34
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Klingons have a similar Bat'leth weapon as well.

Here's why it works...

  1. Massively exotic. They don't get used much so when you do see one, it's a unique experience and you're gonna remember who was using it

  2. Non-Human usage. We can't make this work, our strength and agility simply don't allow for these weapons use. Instead we need super human traits...Klingons through brute strength and Elves through agility can both achieve this, with the only human exception to this being our stories hero.

Both of these traits are not particularly useful in real life, but are fantastic in a story and makes them popular. You need superhuman strength or agility beyond what we currently possess...which in a RPG setting defines many of the characters we like to play (my 18 double zero strength can swing this right?) and in movies will define our heros (I'm pretty sure Bond or XXX could pick two of these up mid-movie and have the audience go along). Unfortunately in Cosplay, the GM (as powerful as they are) cannot grant the superhuman strength nor agility to a player as required to use the item.

My recommendation then becomes make it hollow plastic so your cosplayers can swing around a 'metal' blade as if it was light plastic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't foam be easier? Could be shaped with a knife. $\endgroup$ – Mormacil Mar 30 '17 at 22:13
  • $\begingroup$ As long as you avoid it becoming an Eleven BattlePoolNoodle you're fine. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Mar 30 '17 at 22:21
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Warglaives are awesome. While not as versatile as a sword, they have a use: The massacre of demons ('demon' can be interpreted liberally here). Warning: Do not try this at home! Disclaimer: This is 100% theorycraft. I have exactly zero experience wielding glaives (unless... does playing Illidan in Warcraft 3 count?).


One of the issues you have raised is the weight of the weapons. I can imagine that the wooden weapons you have crafted yourself are quite heavy. That's mainly because the wooden weapons are solid. Steel weapons would be partially hollow, but steel is still rather heavy. If construction materials and money are not an issue, which is often the case with legendary weapons such as theses, you have plenty more to choose from. The aerospace sector is always looking for ways to reduce weight on their air- and spacecraft and have done so pretty successfully. Grade 5 titanium alloys are looking good. There are materials available with even better specific strength (strength of a material normalized to its density), but unsuitable for the part of the weapon that you strike with (or may get struck). That's ok for the grip though, and the same is true for the area facing the user. You could fashion those parts out of even lighter material if necessary.

The fourth issue you listed is actually the key to using the weapon. You mentioned that you can't effectively use the blade without spinning around. Best is to let go of the notion that the weapons can be used in any way similar to a sword. Spinning around (with stretched arms, each holding a glaive) is exactly what you should do. Your arm will only have to worry about providing a pulling force. Combined with the centrifugal force, the weapon will automatically move towards a horizontal place. Counteracting the gravity is done with the same pulling force that you're using to keep the weapon in place. Just make sure you keep gripping the glaive and don't send it flying. Compared to swinging a sword, the latter is rather easy, as you're doing much more with a sword than simply gripping it. For glaives, you don't have to steer the weapons and your arms are not used for the slashing motion, you do that with the rest of your body. Using only a single glaive will throw you off balance. Always use both glaives, or adopt a different fighting style entirely.

For glaives to work this way, aerodynamics are rather important. While it's slicing through the air, the shape of the weapon may causes forces to act on the weapon that disturbs the circular motion of the weapon. What you want is for the glave to automatically stabilize itself when its not held perfectly flat. Most aircraft are designed that way as well. For example, holding the glaive slightly in front of the center of gravity (with respect to the spinning direction) will makes the blade more stable, in the same way that pulling a pen is more stable than pushing a pen across a table is. Instead of moving the location of the grip, you could also make the trailing part of the glaive a bit heavier than the leading part. I think the question of how to make a glaive to be more like an airplane is a question best saved for a different topic though (and left to experts).

Now we have the mental image of a whirlwind made of deadly metal, but I am afraid that won't last. You see, there's a slight problem with this setup. If you spin a few times, chances are you're getting dizzy already. Your opponent just has to keep doding your attacks and at some point you will simply fall on your face. This doesn't seem like a very effective fighting style at all! This is where ballerina's come in! They have been spinning on their feet longer than the concept of a glaive has been around (I think). While they haven't found a magic cure, they are living proof that dizziness doesn't need to be an obstacle. They use a technique where they fix their eyes on a fixed point and snap their head around while turning. For figure skaters on the other hand, that's not much of an option, as that would put too much stress on the neck. Their solution? Train, train and train some more. They ignore it. Apparently they can get pretty good at hiding they suffer from dizziness, although they still do. ...better replace that image we had with Illidan as a ballerina.

Martial artists have been trying to prove their art is the best one ever since we picked up clubs, so I think it is rather pointless to try and prove here that it is at least somewhat effective. I can you tell you this though: Your enemies will soil their pants the first time they see one of you whirling their way. I'm sure some commentators can enlighten us on viable strategies to defend against glaives, but except for the obvious ranged weapons, those strategies are tested literally with the user's life on the line. If that doesn't make them flinch, I suppose it is well deserved if they can prove themselves right. The same goes the other way though, we don't have grandmaster glaive-wielders yet who can teach us the best techniques and glaive designs.

Even if glaives don't prove to be on par with other martial arts, I think I can safely say that in the event of a zombie apocalypse, glaives are looking pretty damn effective for getting around town.

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    $\begingroup$ This is an incredible and unexpected answer. I didn't imagined the idea that glaives are supposed to be used as spinning blades. This actually makes a lot of sense with in-universe use. $\endgroup$ – T. Sar Apr 3 '17 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ I like this answer, but would just like to point out that a good spear/ halberd will quickly put an end to the bladed whirlwind. $\endgroup$ – Lu22 Apr 7 '17 at 13:19
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Once you start modifying the design for practicality you're inevitably going to end up with a sword and perhaps a shield.

Having an extra sharp blade pointed on the back side of the handle doesn't do anything useful but provides lots of potential to accidentally slash yourself. Removing it would lighten the weapon and allow for a larger range of motion.

Now you have two swords. You adjust the blade geometry to something less fantastic and more practical. Two swords isn't too useful so you ditch one of them completely and if it's worth it to lug one around you grab a shield.

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It would be possible to reduce the weight by making the blade perforated, nevertheless it will weaken the blade.

To use them in pair offhand one can be scaled down and be used more like a renaissance sword and dagger style.

It seems reasonable to remove the central spike and make the whole blade crescent-shaped.

Regarding spinning them in combat, as mentioned in some previous answers - that is the perfect way to the grave. I was able to catch people in the middle changing stances in longsword sparring, despite being not the fastest man, so catching a spinning opponent in the back would be not a complex job to do.

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I'm thinking that making the blades curve in the opposite way, away from the body would be a good first step. How many would be heroes are now blind in at least one eye in Azeroth? These things look cool but are impractical in that regard. With any long weapon, you want to keep the sharp bit away from you.

So start with curving the blade the other way. You don't really have to change the aesthetic of it too much. The barbs are a little ridiculous, so I'd lose them or maybe turn them in such a way as to make them more likely to catch an opponents blade.

The next step is then to make them shorter. Unless you are in a small party or loose melee, you are going to be as much of a danger to freind or foe. Even with short blades, A six foot person would have a span of about 9 feet, blade tip to blade tip. Hazardous in the crush of battle. So make the blades maybe 15 or 16 inches, out from either side of the weapon. This would help greatly reduce the weapon's weight. This gives you an overall weapon length of about 36 inches, which is about the same length as a typical broadsword. It will be on the heavy side due to the additional central blade, so you may be talking about a 3 kg item.

You will need to be very strong and have very high endurance to be able to use this for more than a couple of minutes. If you want an idea of how hard this is, just swing around a couple of 1 gallon water jugs for 3 minutes. Your hero is also going to need forearms like Popeye. All of the ability to move these things around is going to rely on the wrist.

Further weight savings are only going to happen at the cost of blade strength. You might consider changing the central blade into a spike.

This weapon is only really going to be useful against opponents with little or no armor. You won't have sufficient leverage to generate an armor defeating blow unless you can perform some sort of wide swinging strike. You could try punching with the central spike, but if something gets in the way of either of the outer blades, it won't hit true and will be turned by the armor.

The more I think of it, this weapon is only really going to be useful in gladiatorial pits. Not a battlefield.

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Well I'm a fan of this twin blades myself and here's a summarized answer:

Warglaives are such a huge weapon, and mostly made of metal , it won't hurt if the whole size (end to end) is about from the bottom of your chin to the hips . Why ? Because having a long blade wielded in the middle is hard to balance and very heavy and the advantage of having a shorter blade is having more space and wielding it easier , more space and lightweight , more options , you can use it to stab straight , and do a backstab which is better to have as some of your options rather than swirling forever ,if you want , even if it's short try to make it wider , so it may look like a compressed glaive rather than two medium daggers joined together .

Also the reason why you swirl withis warglaives it's because it's circular , why not make the blade straight or facing the outside like a saw , you know to make sure that swirling isn't only your style , but one things for sure , to fight with warglaives is to use your whole body ,like dancing , becoming one with it , well that's about it, well it's just my opinion .hope this comment helps you , and if you make it possible , I would be more than happy to address you as a legend

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