Back



Weapons


Swords

Scimitar (Tahari): A long, curved sword, used either one-handed or with two-hands, depending upon the situation. It has a wickedly curved, single-edged blade, honed to razor-sharpness, which will easily part silk dropped upon its edge. Even a light stroke of a Tahari scimitar will pass effortlessly through the flesh, leaving a carved mark 1/4" inch deep in the bone beneath. The overall blade length is perhaps thirty or more inches, with an 8" inch long "false-edge" across the back of the tip, for backhanded slashes. Used one handed from kaiila-back it is incredibly deadly; used two-handed upon the ground, it is equally terrifying.

Long Sword (Viking Spatha): The long sword is commonly used by the denizens of Torvaldsland, Asperiche, Scagnar, and other such northern cold-weather climes. It is approximately 36 inches in length, though long swords in excess of 40 inches can also be found, depending upon the reach and preference of the user. It is carried in a belt-scabbard or leather support loop on the wielder's off side, or strapped across its user's back over his right shoulder.

The Northerners employ it to great effect with their thicker thews and greater arm length. It is primarily used for slashing, to batter an enemy's shield to pieces, after which the wielder follows through with a killing stroke. Universally hand forged, these swords are "pattern blades" constructed in the Damascus style, whereby many braided rods of both soft flexible steel and stronger, more brittle steel are heated and worked into a single piece, then hammered flat for shaping and tempering.

In this way, the blade is imbued with both great flexibility and superior strength. Because of this, when rubbed with a mild acid or oxidizing compound, the finished blade will display a twisted, snake-like pattern caused by the different carbon contents of the woven steel, embedded in the polished surface. Each of these weapons is typically named by its creator, and it is even a common belief among some northerners that such blades are sentient beings, possessed of souls.

Short Sword: The common Gorean short sword, designed to be used in conjunction with the round battle shield so often favored by Gorean warriors, is described as a leaf-shaped, double-edged blade with a short single-handed grip. The grip is typically either of polished ka-la-na or tem-wood, either unadorned or wrapped in leather, cloth or cord. The blade of this weapon is between twenty and twenty-two inches in length, and it is worn either in a belt scabbard on the left hip or alternately in the same scabbard, slung over the left shoulder for travel.

In later books, this weapon is described as a "gladius," which implies that, rather than a typical cross guard assembly, it sports a simple sculpted or disk-shaped hilt, without lengthy quillions, and either a plain disk-shaped or knobbed pommel. It is also mentioned by Tarl Cabot that this weapon is ideal for the kind of swift, close-up in-fighting which is so near and dear to the hearts of the Gorean male. Typically honed to razor sharpness, the owner can even achieve a keen enough edge that, when a piece of silk is dropped upon the blade, the fabric will part effortlessly. The best example of such blades come from the smithies of Ar and Ko-ro-ba.

During the tempering process, such blades are commonly quenched in wine, though it is not unknown for the red-hot metal to be quenched by driving it through the body of a male slave. Such short swords are heavily employed in the city-states that have a standing army, since one of its primary uses is to be wielded by a standing formation of men in matched ranks, shield in one hand and sword in the other. Unlike the traditional Roman gladius, however, this small weapon is often used singly, without the benefit of a shield, and the Goreans seem to have developed a system for attack and defense with it which is not unlike that of traditional fencing.

Pole Arms and Spears

Kaiila Lance (Wagon Peoples): A long slender spear, eight to ten feet long, designed to be used from the saddle of a rider on kaiila-back. These lances are not used couched, but rather carried easily in the right fist and are flexible and light. Used primarily for thrusting. They are black in color, cut from the poles of young tem trees, and so flexible that they may be bent almost double before they break. A loose loop of bosk hide, wound twice about the right fist, helps the user to retain the weapon in mounted combat. It is seldom, if ever, thrown.

Kaiila Lance, Hunting (Red Savages): Similar in many respects to the kaiila lance of the Wagon Peoples, though the hunting lance of the Red Savages is commonly longer, heavier and thicker than the war lance. They are commonly unadorned or adorned only with a knot or tuft of feathers. The point of a hunting lance is typically longer and narrower than the war lance, designed to pierce deeply enough to strike a kailiauk's heart. The shaft is shaped tem-wood. The tip is either metal, carved bone or shaped stone, lashed to the shaft with boiled sinew or rawhide, or attached with metal trade rivets. Leather grips, hand loops, and decorations are often present also.

Kaiila Lance, war (Red Savages): This weapon is almost identical to the kaiila lance of the Wagon Peoples, though it is more heavily carved and decorated.

Tarn Lance (Red savages): Similar in most respects to the war lance, except that it is longer and more slender, to facilitate easier use from tarn back.

Tharlarion Lance: A thick spear, normally fashioned of ka-la-na or needle wood, approximately ten to fourteen feet long. It tapers from a lanceolate metal tip (either steel, iron or bronze) to a much thicker hand-guard type grip. At the thickest part it is four inches in width and is often fluted to lighten it while preserving its strength. Carried couched beneath the right arm of the user, the length of the lance itself crossing over and above the neck of the mount, to menace its target, often supported by a lance-rest which is either attached to the saddle or worn strapped to the user's chest. Can also be thrown, though not specifically designed for such use.

Spear (common Gorean): The common Gorean battle spear, designed to be used both in single combat and thrown, though it is typically depicted primarily as a missile weapon. Aided by the significantly lighter gravity of the Counter-Earth, it is deadly when thrown, quite capable of penetrating thick shields and even passing virtually unhindered through the body of its victim. As described by Tarl Cabot, the typical Gorean spear is approximately seven feet in length, with a fitted wooden handle up to two inches thick, capped by a leaf-shaped, tapering bronze spear head eighteen inches in length.

Alternately this spear head can be made of steel, which is probably true in many cases, bronze being too soft and brittle a metal for repeated or long-term usage. Nevertheless, perhaps as a matter of custom, many spears in use on Gor do retain the traditional bronze tip. The handle itself is usually made from ka-la-na wood, and can be banded with metal near the juncture of the spear-head socket to prevent the handle from shearing when thrown.

Spear (Red Hunters/Savages): Similar in most respects to the common Gorean spear, though often it is found tipped with carved bone or shaped stone, rather than metal. It is also highly carved and decorated, according to tribal custom.

War Spear (Kur): Constructed similarly to the common Gorean war spear, only much larger and heavier. The Kur war spear is some 12 feet in length, with a long, tapering bronze head. The shaft of the Kur war spear is 3" in diameter and the bronze head weighs up to twenty pounds.

Harthingy: A long slender javelin-type spear, fitted with a barbed head and used with an attached line for retrieval. A similar weapon first appears in the brine pits of Klima.

Trident: The three-pronged spearing fork used by fishermen and sailors of the island ubarates of Gor. Can be utilized both as a thrusting weapon and as a missile weapon. Also used, in conjunction with a hooked net, in various gladiatorial arenas throughout Gor. It is briefly described as being approximately seven feet in overall length, with prongs of 10" inches or more. Often used with a lanyard or line attached, for retrieval should it be thrown.

Knives

Dagger (Common Gorean): This is a very common weapon, a simple or ornate handle fitted with either a double or single-edged blade of sharpened steel. Daggers upon Gor take many forms, depending upon the needs and whims of their users, and such weapons are the most common form of side-arm used on the Counter-Earth, brandished by persons of all ages and castes. Commonly disparaged by professional warriors as a "woman's weapon," it is easily concealable and fairly simple to use.

Gorean daggers can range from four to eight inches in length, and can be found in every city in various forms. It is worn openly in a belt-sheath or concealed beneath one's clothing, often strapped to the wrist beneath the owner's sleeve, tucked into the collar behind the neck, or hidden in a boot. Used by many free women as a personal means of self-defense.

Hook Knife: Though never described in detail, its usage seems to suggest that it is a short weapon, consisting of a thick, ridged fighting handle and a wide curved blade, sharpened on both sides. The blade is perhaps stubby and crescent shaped, like a modern Earth linoleum or grouting knife, though larger and sharper. Its hilt and pommel can be either fancy or plain and unadorned. The hook knife is often seen in duels and ritual combats, though in displays or sport it is kept sheathed and the sheath itself is coated with colored powder or pigment, so that any successful attack scored by the user can be easily detected for judging purposes. Very popular in the larger cities, such as Ar.

Killing Knife: A throwing knife, typically used only in the larger cities such as Ar, and favored by those of the Caste of Assassins. It is much smaller than the quiva, approximately six to eight inches in length, and its blade is tapered on only one side. Such knives are often inscribed on the hilt or blade with such ritual phrases as "I have sought him. I have found him." Sometimes used in conjunction with poison kanda paste smeared upon the blade, though trained Assassins typically disdain the use of poison. It is rarely used in hand-to-hand combat, designed primarily to be thrown at the body of an unsuspecting victim.

Sleen Knife: This is a broad-bladed, flat, double-edged utility knife equipped with a simple stubby cross guard and unadorned pommel. Much favored by hunters and woodsmen, it is equally suited for use as a camping and skinning knife, prying tool, and as a weapon in single combat.

Tarn Knife: This is a short-bladed, single-edged utility knife typically used by tarnsmen and generally included among their saddle equipment. Some versions of such knives are designed so that the blade folds into the handle for safety when not in use. Often equipped with a lanyard so that it may be lashed to the tarnsman's saddle or belt, to prevent its loss while in flight.

Whip Knife: The use of this weapon is widely regarded as a difficult and delicate art to master. The whip knife consists of a twelve foot long braided leather whip of the "bullwhip" type commonly found on Earth, equipped with a lanyard to insure retention of the weapon in combat. Set into the final eighteen inches of its length are twenty thin, narrow blades, woven into the leather and arranged in sets, four such blades to a set. Each such weapon is tipped either with a double-edged knife blade approximately seven or eight inches long, or a "stunning tip," a lead weight which is designed to incapacitate the victim when he is struck.

Possibly originally intended to be effective against an opponent with a shield (the blade or weight, on its leather extension, would conceivably be able to flex in mid-air, passing around such a protective device to strike the target, similar to a medieval flail) or perhaps developed simply as an attempt to make the common whip more lethal. Rarely used in actual warfare, this weapon is said to be unique to the delta city of Port Kar and is often utilized in the fighting of duels.

Axes

Battle Axe (Kurii): A huge axe wielded by the members of the Kurii race who have become native to Gor. It has a four-inch-thick round handle of green needle wood, approximately eight feet in length, and is equipped with a fixed double-bladed iron axe head, the blade of which is over two feet wide and razor sharp. It is typically used in conjunction with a wide, round iron shield some four feet in diameter.

Battle Axe (Torvaldslander): This weapon is described as a single-bladed axe of hardened iron with a blade of anywhere from 8 to 14 inches in width. It is mounted on a thick wooden handle and usually has a wrist thong attached to the end the handle, which enables it to be more easily retained during combat. Used in conjunction with a round iron-bound shield of wood and hardened leather.

Great Axe (Torvaldslander): This weapon is similar in most respects to the Torvaldslander battle axe, except it is much larger, with a handle up to four feet in length. The axe blade is also much larger, and this weapon is used two-handed, without the benefit of a shield of any sort. Occasionally such axes will be double-headed, though that adds considerably to the weight of the weapon.

Tomahawk: This weapon consists of a shaped wooden handle up to two feet in length, capped with a narrow hatchet-type blade comprised either of sharpened metal, shaped stone or obsidian glass. Often carved with ceremonial inscriptions, it is a common war-arm in use by the Red Savages of the vast grasslands located to the northwest of the civilized city-states of Gor. Can be used as a hand weapon, often in conjunction with a shield of dried rawhide over a wood frame, or thrown as a missile weapon.

War Club (Red Savages): A carved, shaped club of wood or bone, often mounted with a stone or metal head of some sort. This weapon is probably approximately two to three feet in length.

Missile Weapons

Bola: It consists of three long straps of leather, each about five feet long, each terminating in a leather sack which contains, sewn inside, a heavy round metal weight. Developed for hunting fleet-footed and game in flight, it is also used as a weapon of war. Thrown low, the long straps, with their approximately ten-foot sweep, strike the victim and the weighted balls, as soon as resistance is met, whip about the victim's legs, tangling and tightening the straps. Thrown high it can pin a man's arms to his sides; thrown at the throat it can strangle him; thrown at the head the whipping weights can crush his skull. Once a victim is entangled with the bola, typically another weapon, usually a quiva, is then utilized to dispatch the victim if he or she still lives.

Crossbow: The standard infantry missile weapon of Gor. It consists of a heavy, flexible bow of tempered steel, perhaps 18" across (when bent), mounted on a heavy wooden stock about two feet long, with a trigger mechanism built into the shaped handle. It can fire several types of spiked, smooth-tipped or broad-bladed quarrels with enough force to penetrate wooden walls, doors or human bodies with relative ease. It has an effective range of approximately 150 meters for aimed fire, and can strike a target at up to 200 meters when fired into a press of bodies. Slow to reload, it is commonly redrawn through use of a "goat's-foot" hook or a cranequin (bow crank). Quarrels, or "bolts," are carried by the user in a belt-case or quiver. Common throughout all of the Gorean city-states and the preferred weapon of the Caste of Assassins.

Crossbow (Cavalry): Similar in most respects to the larger crossbow, though instead of possessing a heavy metal bow, it has a much lighter bow of layered wood and horn. It is slightly smaller in overall size than its heavy cousin and is equipped with a metal stirrup at the firing end, enabling it to be more quickly restrung and drawn from kaiila or tarn-back. Originally mentioned quite early in the series as a "light crossbow" or "sporting crossbow," it is more clearly defined later.

Great (Peasant) Bow: A long bow typically made from the wood of the ka-la-na tree or sometimes of tem-wood. Unstrung it is over six feet in length and can require a pull of up to 120 lbs, depending upon the strength of the user. The bowstring itself is usually made of hemp or sinew lashed with silk thread. Armed with such a weapon, a highly skilled archer can accurately strike a target the size of a man's head at distances of up to 100 yards. By arcing his line of fire upward to allow for gravity, he can fire a shaft into a ten foot diameter circle at up to 300 yards. The arrows of such a bow are tem-wood, metal-piled and fletched with the feathers of the Vosk gull.

Each such arrow is approximately three feet in length, and can be tipped with several different types of arrowheads; of these, the flight tip (a long narrow three-sided metal spike designed for extreme penetration) and the sheaf tip (a wide double or triple-edged blade designed to inflict maximum tissue damage upon impact) are the most common. Special arrowheads, such as ones fitted with whistles or noisemakers for signalling or reservoirs for flammable liquids, are not unknown. It is commonly carried slung or strapped over the shoulder of the archer when not in use and is accompanied by a belt or shoulder quiver containing forty or more shafts.

Its use requires the archer to wear a bracer of thick leather upon the forearm of his bow arm and to utilize a special archer's glove or leather finger tab to protect his hands and arm from friction caused by the motion of the string when fired. It is a difficult weapon to master, though despite that fact, it is widely used by both many members of the Caste of Peasants, and the rencers of the Vosk Delta.

Short (Bone) Bow: This weapon is heavily used upon Gor for hunting, sport and warfare. Among its adherents are the warriors of the Wagon Peoples, the panther girls (or Talunas), the Red Hunters and the Red Savages. It is much smaller in size than the great bow, and is better suited for use from the back of a kaiila, tharlarion or tarn. It is often carved from a single, flexible piece of tem wood or ka-la-na wood, though such peoples as the Wagon Peoples and the Red Savages can craft short bows of layered wood and horn, which gives such bows much greater strength and durability.

Among the Red Hunters, it is a common practice to treat such bows against inclement weather by smearing them with liquefied blubber taken from the carcass of the Hunjer whale. The short bow can fire as many different types of arrowheads as can its larger cousin, though with substantially less range and penetrating power. The arrows used by the short bow are also much shorter than those employed by the great bow, due to the shorter range of the weapon's "pull." These bows come in all shapes and sizes, and are found throughout Gor.

Quiva: A balanced saddle knife, usually part of a set of seven such weapons. It consists of a narrow double-edged blade of between 9 and 12 inches in length mounted on a shaped handle of wood, bone, or horn. It is honed to razor sharpness, and its blade tapers to a needle point. Designed for use primarily as a missile weapon, the quiva is also perfectly functional as a hand weapon and general utility knife. It is mostly used by the nomadic Wagon Peoples of the southern hemisphere, who will carry matched sets of seven in special sheaths attached to their kaiila saddles. The best examples of these weapon are produced in the city of Ar. Once made, they are shipped to the Wagon Peoples via traders, where they are sharpened and fitted with distinctive handles.

Helmets and Shields

Helmets: There are various types of helmets in use by soldiers and warriors upon Gor. The most commonly used is the standard Gorean war helmet, popularized and manufactured in the larger city-states by the thousands. It is described by Tarl Cabot as being a close-faced helmet which encloses the entire head, with a distinctive "Y" shaped opening in the face plate to admit air and to allow breathing. This style of helmet seems to be based on the Barbuta-style helmets which date from classical antiquity on Earth, perfected and much in use during the heyday of the Athenian city-states of Greece. Typically mounted atop each example of this type of helmet is a crest plate, upon which can be displayed the symbol of a city or organization.

The crests themselves adorn the top of the helmet either crosswise, from one side of the neck to the other, or lengthwise from the back of the neck to the upper forehead like half-fans, and can be fitted with any number of accoutrements, from sleen fur to tarn feathers and the like; in addition, the helmet itself can be painted or lacquered in any color, to represent a grouping, city or caste. As described in the books they are hammered and riveted together in several pieces, though the pierced face plate itself is depicted as "a single piece of iron." Due to the highly developed metal-working capabilities of modern Goreans, however, it is a safe assumption that they are actually of tempered steel, which is lighter and stronger.

It could be that Cabot's reference to them as iron is merely a fanciful allusion on the part of the author. Additionally, such helmets can be hammered from bronze, also an inferior metal, though such examples are probably symbolic of some cultural significance and not intended to be used in actual combat. According to Cabot, each such helmet is fitted with removable padding of rolls of leather, stuffed with softer material and laced into the helmet to insure a superior fit. These helmets are often stripped of their crests and padding to be used as crude cooking vessels by soldiers on the march.

Another example of a Gorean helmet is that often worn by the desert tribesmen and denizens of such southern cities as Turia and Tor, as well as by the nomadic warriors of the Wagon Peoples. This helmet is similar in design to the Mongol/Saracen battle helmet of Earth and is a cone-shaped steel defense worn atop the head, often fitted with a nasal guard of narrow flat construction. Such helmets may be adorned with a ring of fur or fabric which encircles the brow band area and can also be found mantled with either a cloth covering or a camail of linked chain. These helmets are closely fitted to the wearer's head, padded with a thick cloth cap which laces into it, and are often fitted with a leather or cord chin strap to secure the device in place.

A final example of Gorean helmets is the Spangenhelm worn by northern warriors, which is in effect a steel or iron bowl constructed from heavy metal strapping. A single metal brow band encircles the head, with two or more curved metal straps attached to it in the pattern of an "X", covering much of the wearer's skull. Curved plates are riveted in place to fill the gaps between the strapping, resulting in a layered metal cap with covers the entire head. These helmets are often fitted with cheek and neck guards, chain mail camails or even metal face plates which conceal the face or portions of it like a metal mask.

The horns of animals or metal spikes may be attached to the helmet as decoration or to add some measure of protection to the apparatus, though this usually makes them rather bulky and difficult to wear in combat. These helmets are padded with leather or lined with thick fur, and can also be fitted with a leather or cord chin strap to insure a reliable fit.

Shields: Several different types of shield are described in the series. Typically they are round in shape, though they range in size from the huge shield used by the Gor-bound Kurii to the small bucklers wielded by gladiators in the Stadium of Blades in Ar. The most common shield in use upon Gor is the standard warrior's shield of the civilized cities. This is a largish round shield comprised of many concentric overlapping layers of dried shaped leather, probably stretched over a wooden or metal frame, and banded for extra strength with brass or iron bands.

It is fitted with a pair of straps whereby it can be worn upon the user's arm, typically the left one, and is worn slung across the back for ease of movement while its user is traveling from place to place. Among the civilized armies of Gor, such shields are normally painted boldly and have affixed on them some device for identifying the bearer's city. The warriors of the southern city of Turia are known for their usage of distinctive shields which are oval, rather than circular, in shape.

Rare and Unusual Weapons

Knife Gauntlets: A pair of thick leather gauntlets, upon which are mounted crescent shaped knife blades. Sometimes used by gladiators in arena combats.

Kurii Beam projector: A handheld device of some kind, big enough to fit comfortably in the hand of a Kur. This missile weapon fires a highly concussive heat blast, which strikes its target fiercely, often leaving a 3/4" wide hole at the point of impact and an exit wound of upwards of ten inches across, where applicable. It is described as having only a limited number of charges, similar to a revolving cartridge weapon. Used only by the Kurii.

Kurii Dart Thrower: A breech-loading missile weapon which fires a six-inch long, conical gas propelled dart. Its configuration is similar to an Earth rifle. Kurii dart throwers have carved wooden stocks, upon which are incised eccentric designs. These tubular weapons discharge with a hiss, which is not particularly loud. Several types of darts may be fired from such a weapon, including poison tipped, explosive tipped, and tranquilizer darts. These weapons are used exclusively by human agents of the Kurii. The actual firing button is located on the forepart of the stock, and the weapon itself seems to be a one-shot weapon, requiring reloading after every firing.

Silver Tube: This is a charged, cylindrical weapon, perhaps two feet in length, manually aimed and operated; it incorporates principles much like those of the Priest-King's flame death mechanism. When not in use, it is encased in a sealed plastic quiver for storage. When fired it generates a fierce blast of blue flame from its tip, as the air within the path of its beam ignites into flame. It is effective at distances of up to 100 meters, and its use can be aurally detected by the audible hiss caused by the ignition of the air in the beam's path.

Any living creature within the path of the beam, as well as any organic matter caught therein, will instantly erupt into a ball of bright blue flame as the target consumes itself from within. A silver tube will sputter and become inert once its charge is fully expended, though a typical charge will last for literally hundreds of firings. These weapons can only be found within the Nest Complex of the Sardar, and none who do not dwell there can possess them.

An additional example of this type of weapon also makes an appearance in the series, and is described as a narrow, cylindrical, silver object small enough to be concealed in the palm of a human hand. When used upon its lowest setting, such an object produces a small flame suitable for igniting brush and kindling; however, it can be reset to fire one short burst of high intensity blue flame, after which the weapon's charge is expended.

Spiked Hand Wraps: Similar to the Earth cestus, or heavy cloth or leather strips bound about the hand, with projecting spikes which cover the wearer's knuckles.

Spiked Leather: A pair of spiked leather balls which are worn upon the hands of gladiatorial fighters; the spikes of these devices can be very long.




Back