I've heard murmerings, from time to time, about how "unrealistic" the minimum required strengths listed in AD&D for using various weapons are.

The two-handed sword, for example, is commonly brought up as an example. In real life, they tend to weigh somewhere in the region of seven to ten pounds, though their listed encumbrance value (from memory) is 25 pounds.

Let's ignore the encumbrance value for the moment, since as well as its raw weight that's also supposed to take into account the fact that a two-handed sword is a big, awkward thing to carry around all the time. The minimum strength required just to use a two-handed sword without penalty is (again, from memory) 15.

"15 STR needed just to swing an eight pound sword?" I hear them cry. "Ludicrous! I can swing an eight pound wood axe easily, and I'm puny!"

What these carpers and moaners fail to take into account is that the strength required is not just to lift and swing the sword, but to do that again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again.  And again. And do that while ducking and dodging and maneuvering for advantage. And do it with enough muscle to be able to steer the thing with enough finesse to ever be able to hit anything, or to defend yourself from being hit. Exhaustion can set in surprisingly quickly, even when using a much lighter weapon than a two-handed flamberge.

Fighting is tiring, is the point, and swords get very heavy very fast.

1 comment:

  1. I would have to strongly disagree with you here. The chance of rolling a 15 is less than 5% and it is very clear to me that much more than 5% of people could be trained too wield a two-handed sword. If you can lift a weight without much problem, the ability to "wield" and "manipulate" it is much more a function of skill than strength.