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    Canonfire :: View topic - axe of heironeous
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    axe of heironeous
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    Apprentice Greytalker

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    From: turkey istanbul

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    Wed Mar 21, 2007 4:26 am  
    axe of heironeous

    i've always hated the 3rd ed. idea of heironeous paladins having longsword as their favored weapon instead of the traditional battle axe, in an attempt to make Greyhawk generic and have heiron paladins as the archetype.

    but coming to think of it, is there a reason why heironeous favors the battle axe over any weapon? i assume it might have something to do with the deity's martial, offensive even ruthless nature.

    on the positive side about axes,
    axes are cheaper to produce than swords- this shouldn't be an issue with the heiron knights since they are upper class society.

    axes are better at chopping armored flesh than swords- do the traditional enemies of heiron paladins have heavy armor to require this?

    what makes me question this is the battle axe's inability to be used in any kind of tactical infantry or mounted combat. heironeous paladins, making up many knightly orders in oerth, should have some set of tactics as a body of warriors. maybe there are special axe-based squad tactics say, knights of holy shielding should have.

    any ideas?
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:09 am  

    Who cares? It's battle axes all the way for my Heironean priests and 3e be damned!

    What DM in their right mind would want to encourage a pc to give up a hefty axe in favour of the boring old long sword that every fighter and cohort uses.

    I give any cleric who takes martial weapon proficiency in their deitiy's chosen weapon automatic weapon focus. It does mean that the War domain doesn't give such a big benefit but nobody has complained so far and I suppose you can always give them access to a second feat from the fighter list to make up for it if you feel guilty.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:14 am  

    Heironeous is the god of glory and honor, not specifically of mass combat and tactics. He's the sort to emphasizes fighting and aggressive action (unlike Mayaheine, who is a defender). The axe is a very suitable weapon for that sort of role.

    Further, axes are not unsuitable for horsemen. There are quite a few variations of the 'horseman's axe' in use in the late medieval period when armor was sufficient to make swords relatively ineffective. Axes and maces became quite common as a countermeasure.

    One also needs to consider that many of the foes Greyhawkers will fight are bigger and tougher than men: trolls, ogres, even many of the standard humanoids. All are stronger than human warriors. So a valid tactic would be to emphasize killing or disabling them quickly, which favors the axe over the sword. The sword's advantage has always been its superior defensive value, which is minimized if the foe can strike hard enough to render blocks and parries riskier than usual.

    Finally, there is probably a mythological reason for the silver axe that has nothing to do with the practicalities of mortals.
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:13 pm  

    Pet peeve - I am pro-battle axe
    The battle axe has always given Heironeous PCs; IMHO more personal flair then the overused longsword. (forget the excuse of appealing to the average warrior, as if average warriors have access to longswords generally anyway).

    I always felt the axe should do slightly more damage then it does within the game; all the reasons posted in the previous post is valid; however if another rationale is needed, how about the Hextor rivalry.

    Hextor is a tough foe and in one aspect six-limbed; no time to dance and parry around with a sword, Heironeous needs a weapon to hack some limbs off - the battle axe seems a very good choice indeed. Wink
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 21, 2007 7:18 pm  

    I actually prefer having the option of both. IMC different sects and branches of the church favour different weapons. This gives the players a choice rather than having every cleric the same. The more aggressive and offensive branch uses the axe, as suggested above, and a more honor focussed branch favours the longsword.

    The idea of granting every cleric proficiency with their deities weapon is a good one. Does seem like a good bonus but I doubt it would hurt game mechanics at all. The still leaves Weapon Focus for the war domain which is a feat, so nothing to complain about, especially compared to some of the other domain's granted powers.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:25 pm  

    I have always preferred the axe. Perhaps Heironeous was associated with the axe because of the great kingdoms massive expansive nature during the height of the Oeridian empire. It was easy to field more axes then it was swords. Not to mention Hextorites probably had first choice in weapon selection for their flock. The church of Heironeous probably wanted to distance themselves by being the group more readily available to expand the empire. Now with many more countries and kingdoms split from the previous GK you see many more sects of Heironeous which have chosen a socially more acceptable weapon and status symbol to represent the faith.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Thu Mar 22, 2007 9:56 pm  

    I prefer the battle axe but I suspect the change, or rather the addition of the longsword was introduced back in 2e for a few reasons.

    The first reason is the lack of any sort of interesting magical battle axes among the magic item list in 1e/2e. Look at the whole mess of different magical swords, and the lack of axes. Sure, there is the famed Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, but that isn't all that good of a weapon for a paladin, fighter, or priest (if you allowed them this weapon option) of Heironeous. The Holy Avenger was of course a really nice SWORD option that any paladin of any kind, even Heironeous, would want to be at least proficient with, so you see lots of Heironeans with sword proficiencies. Yes, I'll admit that this view is predicated on an assumed lack of creativity on the part of many dm's, but there it is. I always made a point of creating very nice magical weapons for those characters who chose weapons that were in character rather than weapons with the best game statistics. Oddly enough, my players still have yet to key in on this. Happy

    Then there is the fact that most people identify with the sword as the penultimate knightly weapon, and as a deity of chivalry, honor, etc. Heironeous would therefor surely have followers who use such a weapon. This statement is meant to carry a slight note of sarcasm, as many knights used battle axes, and also who is to say that in the world of Greyhawk certain knights will not identify with weapons other than the sword(regardless of who their deity is, if they even worship one). As far as things go in my camapign, swords are very common weapons among professional warriors, but among Heironeans the axe is a favored weapon. Even still, it doesn't mean that every Heironean is trained in the use of a war axe of some kind, but a majority of them are.

    I'll also throw in the reason that the longsword in particular has always had the benefit of better in-game stats over the battle axe, which will skew many players’ choice between the two.

    Of these three reasons, I think the reason for the change/addition of longswords to the Heironean arsenal has mostly to do with reason #2, closely followed by reason #1, and lastly for reason #3.
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    Last edited by Cebrion on Tue Mar 27, 2007 5:40 am; edited 3 times in total
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:33 am  

    Yeah, it was clearly a game decision rather than a campaign "reality" decision. Can't diverge from the stereotypes. That'll just confuse people...
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Mar 23, 2007 8:52 pm  

    Yeah, it's sad Sad

    IIRC; 70% of magic swords were suggested longswords, as a rationale; within one of my early games, the DM saw longswords as elvish favoured due to their bonus plus the magic-user class or "noble" human warriors and human enchanters who equate it with the grace of the elder race. However that should not stifle the various human cultures or the other races from maximizing the magic of their cultural weapons. Unless the PCs play without any social or cultural regard and are simply reading damage tables. Mad

    As a reason I can accept Phalastar suggestion rather then the "common warrior" weapon; which I see more as a short or broad sword, if any sword is given at all. Swords take time to produce, to learn and are relatively expensive to entrust to militia (hp 4). Socially given the middle ages aspect and cost to benefit analysis, even in GH; It is hard to justify longswords being the weapon of choice for the common warrior.

    Atleast Phalastar suggestion opens up some interesting in game possibilities for the Heironeous priesthood tension to express itself.
    Black Hand of Oblivion

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    Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:48 pm  

    The main weapon of the common warrior would probably not be a sword, unless that common warrior was part of a national army with the capabilities to arm its troops in such a way. Swords require much more skill to make than say a knife/dagger, an axe, flail, warhammer, military pick, morning star, mace or metal banded/spiked club, spear, any polearm weapon, and similar wooden hafted weapons (though take note that even the non-polearm weapons were often made metal-hafted when the material was available). The common blacksmith could make most of these aforementioned weapons (as many of them are used as everyday tools or are variants of them), while swords require a bit more training to make. Not only that, but wood is a much easier material to procure than steel, so wooden handles(hafts) reinforced by a band of steel here and there are a good alternative material and saves the hard to acquire steel for the more important things.

    The common warrior would more likely carry any one of the above weapons, and likely more than one, and it would be more likely that a common warrior would NOT be given a sword but rather would acquire one from a dead enemy. Captured swords might be distributed among common warriors who were known to be part of a dedicated force, while conscripted warriors would probably be passed over, even if there were extra swords to go around. Swords can break, so it is best to save them for those who are likely to continue using them in one's service. Sorry peasant fodder, no swords for you. Another point of note is that as armor became heavier and more advanced, the use of swords as the main weapon of choice actually began to decline. Heavy armored troops would still carry them as side arms, though mainly to use them on more lightly armored enemy common warriors, while they carried a heavy impact/piercing weapon to fight against the heavily armored opponents they would purposely seek out in battle(at that is what they were armored up to fight in the first place).

    As to the whole elf thing and the 70% longsword thing for magic weapons, there is no relation. The percentage for longswords is solely based on the fact that the longsword is representative of the average “sword of war” that any number of races make use of. It is not an elven thing, everyone has them. As to elves, it is just made a point of their culture that they favor the use of such weapons over most others, and this doesn’t just include the other types of war swords (broad, great, scimitar, khopesh, falchion, bastard). Elves didn’t pave the way for humans to use the longsword, or even mountain dwarves, or others who are also listed at some time or another as using the longsword as a weapon. Think of elves using longswords in the same way as Baklunish using scimitars- it’s a simple cultural tendency. Besides, I find the reasoning that “RACE X did anything because they learned it from the elves" as rather dull, boring, irritating and unimaginative. Good thing the elves were there to pull all of the other races out of their caves/trees and teach them how to do things like work metal, write, philosophize, work magic, create music, art, sculpt, etc. This sort of thinking is to me reminiscent of explorers “discovering” new lands with indigenous peoples, and then being surprised that these people have any sort of complex culture and technology whatsoever. Besides, elves have never been so involved as to impact humans in this way, particularly in Greyhawk. The longsword is merely representative of the "common sword of war", nothing more.

    …and so the axe is an excellent weapon of the common warrior- the key points being that it is much easier to make than a sword, it is more readily available, and most common warriors will have already had a good amount of practice getting a feel for it through the necessity of having had to chop down trees and split wood for fires. Happy
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:06 pm  

    Maybe it's because I'm one of the "Old Guard" who started with 1st edition, and the 1st edition spirit of "If the rule don't fit, change it so it does" that makes me say this, but as far as axes or swords go...why can't the DM decide what best fits with his or her game?

    Longswords do seem more "chivalric" to me. I see them as the classic weapon for a knight. That may be in part due to the plethora of fantasy art that depicts warriors with their trusty longswords.

    However, I do like the idea of the battle axe wielding warrior too. Sure, it may not be "classic paladin" like the longsword, but seeing a guy running at you with a BIG ____ING AXE is sure to unnerve most adversaries.

    Now, as for the notion (not saying it's right or wrong) that humans in D&D like longswords because it's reminiscent of the grace and beauty of elves. Perhaps some other humans preferred the battle axe because it reminded them of the effectiveness in battle of dwarves, who tend to use them more than swords.

    As for that "70% of magical swords are longswords" thing, I've pretty much given up on the random tables. I found that all too often I was rerolling anyway, because the item just didn't fit. It might be too powerful for the adventure, or some other reason. (Although I do sometimes still roll when I can't decide.) So, I just choose the type of sword I want to be magical now. In one campaign I ran several years ago, the default sword was the bastard sword, so magic longswords would have been of limited usefulness.

    While I'm posting, why not have more special "other" weapons? I see not real reason there couldn't be a Holy Avenger Battle Axe, or an Axe of Sharpness. (Now I'm thinking those might be fun ideas to throw at a longsword obsessed group of players >:) )
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:21 pm  

    Very few real world armies had 'longsword' type weapons as a primary armament for their average troops. Spears, polearms, bows, and axes were the main weapons of the infantry. Or two handed swords in some cases. Even as side arms longswords were pretty rare. As Cebrion stated, they are too expensive and require too much training to use.

    Even when you did have a unit of 'swordsmen', it was mostly a specialist unit like the 'sword and buckler' units that were used to counter pikemen in the late medieval/early rennaissance era.

    Swords dominate in D&D because they are the best dueling/skirmish weapon around, which is the sort of fighting that D&D characters expect to be in. And because swords are sexy. Everyone in myth and literature uses a sword, don'tcha know!

    Heironeous is, in fact, a lousy god for the common warrior. Who pretty much doesn't give a damn about any of the things Heironeous stands for. They want loot and easy fights. Not fair play, justice, and all that rot. Heironeous is a god for noblemen with the leisure to have honor codes and worry about more than just where the next meal and ale is coming from. From that point of view, you could argue the sword would make more sense than the axe, but its a major incongruity or anything.

    Its just kind of silly to change it arbitrarily to suit a stereotype. No one is obliged to use an axe just because their god does... What's good for a god isn't always the way his mortal followers ought to be. Don't see too many vikings armed with Thor like throwing hammers....
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:28 am  

    BlueWitch wrote:
    Sure, it may not be "classic paladin" like the longsword, but seeing a guy running at you with a BIG ____ING AXE is sure to unnerve most adversaries.


    this really might be the main motivation for a warrior/paladin/priest of heironeous. and the thing what makes them unique.

    i'd like to think of a paladin of heironeous to the paladin concept as what batman is to the superhero genre: a figure to be avoided, a creature of vengeance, a merciless hunter of evil that strikes fear to the hearts of his enemies. even cruel than the evil itself. this may not be the truth with the heiron paladins themselves but it may be what they want their enemies to believe and would make good sense. one would skip whatever sinister plan he has on his mind even with the idea of a heironean coming after him.

    so a battle axe, even a great axe (heironeous himself is said to have an axe shifting in size) serves great for this aspect. on the other hand, heironean paladins and priests in knightly organizations may or may not be required a second, more suitable weapon for organized battle tactics.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:46 am  

    Axes don't preclude organised battle tactics - look to the Saxon huscarls and the Varangians. They're fearsome and effective weapons, and that, along with cultural (the Oerids may have a bias towards axes) and mythological (the axe may have some special significance to Heironeous) reasons, probably explains the use of axes.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Mar 26, 2007 8:08 pm  

    Exactly, I don't say every follower of Heironeous has to use the axe, choose any weapon that they want. Technically the favored weapon is used the spectral weapon spell and as a priest first slot.

    Is the playing public so "wedded" to powergaming and stereo-types that even "wasting" a slot on the battleaxe can not be accepted without complaining?

    Use Phalastar rationale as a better "in game" then some weak Heironeous flip flop. Heironeous is the god primarily of nobles and officers not the common warrior. It feels like Heironeous is prone to panic not a good sign for a god of valor. Wink
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:41 pm  

    The third edition design team, and Jonathan Tweet in particular, wanted Heirnoeous to be the "typical" paladin archetype. The "typical" paladin uses a sword, so they tossed out the axe.

    Conforming to Greyhawk continuity was not even a tertiary concern of the third edition design team. In fact, I got the distinct impression that they were pissed off they had to use the setting at all.

    --Erik
    Master Greytalker

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    Wed Mar 28, 2007 1:52 pm  

    Thanks erik for the response Happy

    So it was a simply matter of archetypes and an lack of care toward GH.

    BTW; where does this anger toward GH among game designers come from?
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