Endless Blue – Week 20 – Unguis   1 comment

Combat

Unguis

Just as life of the Endless Blue has revised and improved on its ways to protect itself with artificial nautiluses and aegises, so to have they refined and enhanced its implements of attack, the ungues.  An ungues is a term referring to any weapon, be it held in the hand, strapped to the body, or slung behind a piscean.  Life is difficult on Elqua, and survival is of upmost importance.  This constant effort of protection through passive and aggressive means has led to the development of some uniquely created items.

On a world where water surrounds you on all side like a cool, glassy cocoon, the materials for construction of tools and items are significantly different.  With sea currents swirling around from all directions, methods such as metal smithing and wood working are impractical.  Constant exposure to water and salt corrodes metals, while porous wood crack and rots.  Just as with nautiluses and aegises, ungues are constructed out of more accessible and practical aquatic materials.  Volcanic glass and sea shell, honed to a razor’s sharpness are affixed to bone grips and handles.

Of perhaps even more influence that materials and method in developing unguis is the surroundings themselves.  Water slows movement that in air would be lithe or graceful in the air to a clumsy, molasses-like crawl.  Swinging a weapon is essentially moving a lever — both ends move for the same amount of time, but the weapon head moves at a higher speed than the haft, thus delivering more power to the impact.  The problem arises with the fact that water doesn’t compact well, and that forms resistance to the swing, slowing it down and reducing its effectiveness severely.

Warhammers and flails are unheard of in the military histories of Elqua, being unwieldy and impractical to control in the heat of combat.  Longswords like claymores and katanas are equally ineffective, for they deliver their damage to a victim through a slice.  Instead, weapons that pierce through thrusting thrive in aquatic environments.

Knife — The most ubiquitous tool on all of Elqua, the knife has a sharpened edge meant for severing things apart.  The shortest of the blades, it delivers the most dexterity but the least damage.

Dagger — A larger, up to 12 inches, version of the knife, usually with a sharpened edge on both sides of the blade which culminates in a tiny point at the tip, well suited for stabbing.

Punch Dagger/Cestus — This unguis is designed to fit in a clenched hand, with spikes or knife blades extending forward past the knuckles.  Using the cestus is a simple matter of punching with it, striking with the lacerating capabilities of the protruding points followed up with the force of the blunt impact.

Gaff/Hook — A truly cruel tool, a sharp, curved hook attached to a perpendicular handle.  Like the cestus, it is held in a clenched hand.  The gaff can be used forcibly, impaling a victim on its hook, or more dangerously, hooking into a gill-slit.  A pair of these can be used in a grapple when the condition of the defeated opponent is not an issue.  They dig into the flesh of an opponent, and the natural fist-position give a circumstance bonus to all grapple checks.

Sickle — The standard sickle is a farming tool for harvesting crops, and as such it is the most prevalent of any weapon.  It has a curved blade with the sharpened edge on the inside, connected to a short handle.  The blade is designed to hook around a mass of plants, bunching the stalks against the keen edge to facilitate their slicing from the roots.

Sickle (Elquan) — Another agricultural implement, the Elquan sickle at its core is a bar a little longer than the forearm, with a perpendicular handle near one end.  Opposite that is a long, shallow, curved blade that follows the length of the shaft..  Where a sickle cuts on an inward swing, the Elquan sickle cuts on an outward swing.  They make excellent weapons for the common piscean, operating naturally as one would use their arms to block a blow or strike an enemy.  This unguis can be concealed on species such as Locanths and Sahaguin due to the fin-like protrubences along their arms.

Short Sword — Just as the dagger grew from the knife, the short sword grew from the dagger.  Its blade can be up to double the length of its dagger predecessor, but longer than that and it becomes problematic to stab without the use of both hands, and mariners usually graduate to a spear instead.

Half-Spear — Essentially just a spear with a shorter shaft, the half-spear is a close combat unguis with no reach.

Staff — A staff is essentially a spear without the sharpened point.  It is used in a jabbing motion, prodding for the tender spots of an opponent where it can do the most damage.  It is wielded in two hands, but underwater it is a poor double-ended weapon.  As an unquis, it can give the wielder greater range.

Spear —  A long shaft with a point or dagger-like blade on the end, spears are a mainstay in piscean forces.  They length of the weapon gives the bearer reach to attack an enemy before they can close in.  Like the staff, it is used with a thrusting motion.  While a spear can be thrown, it has a range increment of 5 feet and thus very inaccurate.

Polearm — Polearms developed from simple spears, with their head becoming more complex and specialized.  The first polearms were given a curved hook to the spearhead, and in the hands of a proficient fighter that hook could be caught into the gill-slits of a victim.  From there the variations exploded, and now there are a plethora of designs.  In most civilized militaries, the polearm is the unguis of issue, and entire platoons will be entrusted with polearms of the same design.

Trident — A trident is a multi-tipped polearm, usually with three tines but can vary in number.  It is synonymous with both martial prowess and with aquacultural prowess, and as such is the universal symbol of greatness to Elquan civilizations.  It is the mantle of power for both terrestrial kings and metaphysical deities, and in heraldry is used to note family nobility.

Ranged Unguis

Unguis that work over distance are rare in the oceans.  Spears are useless when thrown more than five feet away, and a hand-held bow cannot deliver the amount of kinetic energy to fire an arrow in a direct line without it veering off in the currents.  The only true form of ranged weapon that exists is the spear gun, a variation of the heavy crossbow that flings a diminutive javelin about thirty feet via an internal spring mechanism.  Since the Lumulus are the only race with metalworkers in the oceans, spear guns must be imported at great cost.

The net is another common combat tool, but unlike the others above it must have two or more individuals to wield one.  Just like range weapons cannot fire ammunition because of the slowing properties of immersion in water, neither can a net be thrown as it can on the surface.  The users must work in tandem to employ a net successfully, both dragging opposite sides of the net through the water (known as trawling) to capture a creature in the tight woven mesh.  In D20 game terms, the first trawler whose action comes up in initiative must hold his action until it is the other trawler’s (or last trawler’s, if there are more than a pair) turn to act, then they attack in unison.

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 20 – Unguis

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 93 – Eadro, the Changing Tide | Endless Blue

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