• The Infractions Forum is available for public view. Please note that if you have been suspended you will need to open a private/incognito browser window to view it.

🎨 Creative Optimal Melee Weapons for Shorter Persons

Killer300

Registered User
Validated User
Goblins, Dwarves, Halflings, Gnomes, and countless other creatures in fantasy are shorter than humans, often to an extensive degree. Despite this, they're often depicted using... the same weapons pretty much, even though,

A. From what I understand, height difference is a huge deal in martial arts, and more specifically, one's height compared to others is a really big deal in boxing. Taller boxers use Out-Fighting, because their strikes can reach further, whereas shorter boxers will try to use In-Fighting, because they can step into a boxer's range more easily, as examples. I'm sure there's a lot more to it than that, but, this is just from a surface reading.

B. I have to imagine a pike square made of people who are say, 3-4 feet tall is going to function at least somewhat differently from a pike square of people who are 5-6 feet, to use examples. Outside of that, any type of formation fighting seems like something that would be heavily impacted by the average height of people in the formation, and formations are rather important to using pikes, spears, or really, any en masse melee fighting.

That's just my initial thoughts on this. Does fencing, for example, care much about the height difference between two fencers? If it does, how does it account for that?


For how I would adapt to this, I'm imagining Halflings, Dwarves, ect., using one of two strategies when fighting say, humans, Orcs, Elves, or other entities that are taller than them.

1. They would try to eliminate the height difference by using pikes and other reach weapons that are longer than them. A 10 feet pike, even if you are much shorter than it, is still a 10 foot pike. Same goes for spears that aren't quite as long but much longer than you are. In this case, the height difference between say, a dwarf and a human doesn't matter, or even advantages the shorter person, because the reach of the weapon changes that. The above could easily be wrong, but I'm not sure why if so.

2. On the flip side, judging by boxing, using shorter weapons, like daggers, or even say, sap gloves, would be advantageous because you can get inside your opponent's defense, and they have very little ability to defend against you.

I wouldn't expect to see say, normal sized swords, or axes, because that doesn't seem to take advantage of being shorter than your opponent, and aren't long enough to facilitate the advantages of say, pikes, or rather long spears.

Now, I could be wrong on all the above, so... thoughts!
 

BlackFerret

Registered User
Validated User
They could grab a flail and just spin really fast, taking out the kneecaps of anyone within 5 feet.

Seriously, though, short fighters would probably use relative-sized weapons and go in low to cripple, like the femoral artery or hamstring, forcing the enemy to fall down. Once they are down and prone, the Dwarf/Gnome/Halfling has the height advantage, as well as the maneuverability of still being on their legs. Size is relative, so think of how humans would take on a giant or ogre.

A phalanx would probably have a row of pikes/spears at horizontal, normal-to-them, level, and another row behind of raised pikes/spears at an angle to be at chest level of the enemy. The raised spears keep the enemy weapons at bay and keep them from going over the ranks, while the horizontal ones can put their full bulk behind them to push the enemy back at leg/waist level.
 

Dalillama

Registered User
Validated User
There's also the matter of who and where they're fighting. Gnomes duking it out with goblins in narrow tunnels vs halfling militia defending their farms from human or orc raiders vs dwarves contesting with ogres and giants for the high fastnesses.
 

Dalillama

Registered User
Validated User
The above could easily be wrong, but I'm not sure why if so.
The short answer is mass and leverage: dwarves might not have a problem, but gnomes, halflings, goblins, etc. haven't got the mass to shift those big honking spears around like human/orc pike pushers can.

I'm thinking that tunnel fighters will want short spears, short-handled picks, punch spikes/qatars, trench knives, and possibly bucklers. It's close in combat in tight quarters, even for them. Think house-to-house fighting equivalent. Bigger foes will be crouched or crawling, and can't really bring much of their reach to bear, or swing big weapons around.

Fighting medium creatures in the outdoors, short (4-6') billhooks, slings, spears, maybe poleaxes to scale, and lots of ambushes. Hook the enemy's ankles and knees, ideally severing the tendons there, then kill them when they fall, or pull back and shoot at anyone trying to help or pass them.
 
Last edited:

Killer300

Registered User
Validated User
The short answer is mass and leverage: dwarves might not have a problem, but gnomes, halflings, goblins, etc. haven't got the mass to shift those big honking spears around like human/orc pike pushers can.
I didn't even think about that, but it makes sense. It's awkward to handle pike type weapons in the first place, and so someone being shorter would have that, along with lacking the mass necessary to force the pikes to work correctly.

I'm thinking that tunnel fighters will want short spears, short-handled picks, punch spikes/qatars, trench knives, and possibly bucklers. It's close in combat in tight quarters, even for them. Think house-to-house fighting equivalent. Bigger foes will be crouched or crawling, and can't really bring much of their reach to bear, or swing big weapons around.

Fighting medium creatures in the outdoors, short (4-6') billhooks, slings, spears, maybe poleaxes to scale, and lots of ambushes. Hook the enemy's ankles and knees, ideally severing the tendons there, then kill them when they fall, or pull back and shoot at anyone trying to help or pass them.
I just had this image in my head(which billhooks could serve), of say, Goblins, rushing out into the field curved blades meant to slash at tendons, and otherwise fuck up people's legs, running through a crowd of bigger soldiers, slicing at leg level, before coming back around to finish them off while their opponents writhe on the ground in agony. Billhooks specifically are interesting in this context because they're farming implements, which has me picturing Hobbit type people getting out billhooks before running into enemy forces to slice them open at the leg level.

Outside of that, I could see short spears, but I wonder if spears have any advantages without their length compared to say, machete type implements. In general, I'm not sure if thrusting weapons work as well if you don't have as much length, especially in a battlefield context. I bring this up because rapiers, along with most thrusting swords, seem to prioritize length. There are exceptions, such as small swords, but I don't know how much battlefield use those saw.

With that said, for tunnel fighting, daggers indeed make a lot of sense, especially say, punch daggers, along with other, similar weapons. Something else I picture, in a more general context, is indeed brass knuckles, or similar, because I think such punch range weapons could work really well at really close range.
 

Killer300

Registered User
Validated User
Also, on the topic of say, medieval ranged weapons(as guns avoid I think most, if not all of these problems):

1. Longbows are out. All the issues that prevent pikes probably prevent those, and quite possibly prevent using a lot of other types of bows. I'm not sure a scaled down traditional bow would work as well. To put it another way, there's a reason Dwarves are often depicted using crossbows, and I think the reason would also apply to Halflings, Hobbits, Gnomes, Goblins, ect. Heavy crossbows, and later on, the Arbalest, I see particularly being liked, because those could get through armor pretty well, from what I understand, and I actually think armor could present more of an issue than normal for say, Goblins.

2. By contrast, I think throwing weapons are fine, but I'm not sure. The reason I say this is I've recently learned how much humans are actually evolved, specifically, to throw things, such as javelins. Human kids, while not quite as good as adults, I think still take advantage of the same dynamics, so say, Hobbits, Halflings, ect., may get to take advantage of the same biomechanics that make throwing so effective. Slings and the like will work, but I don't know how well loads of slings... scale, for lack of a better term, in terms of battle usage.

Bring this up because the ranged weapons available I think will determine a lot about what sort of melee weapons, formations, ect., are used.


On the topic of armor, I feel like Goblins, Hobbits, ect. would have a really shitty time dealing with armor. I'm not sure scaled down blunt weapons work as well, although I could easily be wrong, but there are things they can't use. Longbows are out, as mentioned, but in addition I don't think they could use lances as well as their taller counterparts, even with horses, ponies, or similar available, because of the same mass issues that hurt them with say, pikes. Meanwhile, from what I can tell, thrown ranged weapons are hard countered by like, chain mail, much less plate mail. I could be drastically underestimating how effective slings can be, but...

Well, I'm not betting on a tiny rock that has below 100 meters per second in speed getting through say, plate mail, or delivering enough kinetic energy through the padding a good gambeson, or similar, can provide.

Thoughts?

EDIT: Just realized, Goblins and the like would LOVE shields. They would get more of their bodies covered with comparably smaller, and therefore hopefully lighter and cheaper, shields, in addition to all the benefits a good shield already provides.
 

Dalillama

Registered User
Validated User
Outside of that, I could see short spears, but I wonder if spears have any advantages without their length compared to say, machete type implements
Cost, mainly.
Something else I picture, in a more general context, is indeed brass knuckles, or similar, because I think such punch range weapons could work really well at really close range.
Trench knives are ones with knucks built into the hilt
Heavy crossbows, and later on, the Arbalest, I see particularly being liked, because those could get through armor pretty well,
Those are probably crew-served weapons for most smaller folks, though.
Slings and the like will work, but I don't know how well loads of slings... scale, for lack of a better term, in terms of battle usage.
Not great, but you take what you can get.
Well, I'm not betting on a tiny rock that has below 100 meters per second in speed getting through say, plate mail, or delivering enough kinetic energy through the padding a good gambeson, or similar, can provide.
Bounce it off a helmet, you can ring someone's bells pretty good, but yeah.
Thoughts?
Realistically the answer to 'how should 2-3' people fight 5-6' people in open terrain' is 'they shouldn't, because they're going to get stomped'. The alternative answer is 'bring overwhelming numbers and be willing to take a lot of casualties'. There's things, like those described above, that can mitigate that to some extent, but basically if there's anything like parity in technology, financial resources, and training, the halflings, goblins, kobolds, and gnomes just lose. Their tactics basically have to be based on ambush and retreat, traps, and/or retreating into tunnels or oyher enclosed spaces.
 

BMonroe

Registered User
Validated User
One of my old dwarf PCs fought with a halberd.

He'd hold onto the bladed end, point the haft in front of him, and run really fast (a mobility spell was always helpful here). Then as soon as he got close enough he'd plant the haft in the ground and launch into the air like a pole-vaulter, aiming for the head of his enemy with the hacking blade.

Never underestimate the ingenuity of PCs.
 

Killer300

Registered User
Validated User
Cost, mainly.
Oh... didn't think about that.

Trench knives are ones with knucks built into the hilt
True, and probably the best choice over all then.

Those are probably crew-served weapons for most smaller folks, though.
Fair, as I seem to be underestimating how large these crossbows are.

Not great, but you take what you can get.

Bounce it off a helmet, you can ring someone's bells pretty good, but yeah.
Ah, yeah.

Realistically the answer to 'how should 2-3' people fight 5-6' people in open terrain' is 'they shouldn't, because they're going to get stomped'. The alternative answer is 'bring overwhelming numbers and be willing to take a lot of casualties'. There's things, like those described above, that can mitigate that to some extent, but basically if there's anything like parity in technology, financial resources, and training, the halflings, goblins, kobolds, and gnomes just lose. Their tactics basically have to be based on ambush and retreat, traps, and/or retreating into tunnels or oyher enclosed spaces.
Well... I don't know, the slashing legs strategy seems pretty good, especially if they can run fast enough to avoid getting stomped.

Also, didn't think about Kobolds, as wow being 2 feet tall would suck here, to put things very mildly. By comparison, I think three-four feet you can... almost get parity with some smarts, but otherwise, you make a fair set of points.
 

Rose Embolism

Registered User
Validated User
Well... I don't know, the slashing legs strategy seems pretty good, especially if they can run fast enough to avoid getting stomped.
Average adult human male leg length: 32".
Average 4' halfling leg length, given same proportions: 22".

I wouldn't count on the Halflings being able to outrun humans.

It would be best for Halflings would be to acoid melee combat entirely, especially in open areas where the Bigjobs can manuever. Instead, good strategies would involve taking the fight to built up or heavily forested areas, where the Halflngs could use their size and stealth to set up ambushes. They could use animal trails and tunnels through the brush that Bigjobs cant navigate, use punji traps to channel intruders into killing zones, and then use light bows, slings Atlatls, even poisoned darts to attack then fade away.

If the Halflings are set as skirmishers, have them use small, fast animals; war dogs or cheetahs might be good, but deer might be much easier to feed and are quite nimble. One advantage is both halflings and most animals can see much better than Bigjobs at night, meaning night time raids may be feasible.

"But!" you cry, "This means the Halflings won't be able to meet the Bigjobs in grand battle!" Uh yeah, that's exactly what it means. They'll fight defensively and sneakily, losing fields and open houses to invaders while harassing them from local woods and underground shelters.
 
Top Bottom