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Old 02-03-2009, 11:53 AM   #41
davem
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
I dunno- I think I can imagine Dwarves making and deploying curved plastic housings packed with C-4 and shrapnel, detonatable either by remote command or tripwire.......
Ha! I thought you'd read all of HoM-e. The Dwarves' use of anti-personel mines against Moria Orcs was an idea Tolkien was playing with in a late '60's re-write of LotR. Of course, the 'plastic housings' were to be made of 'imperishable crystal' & the tripwire made from single strands of Elven hair. The idea was that Gimli's request for a single hair from Galadriel's head was to provide said wire, which would have been set in the crystal housing of the mine & hopefully would have been strong enough to be retrieved & reused. An alternate idea involved his shaving Legolas' head one night to obtain a large stock of said tripwire material. Obtaining the explosive would have been more difficult - Gandalf would have been a possible source of gunpowder (Gimli would have offered him a contract to supply 'fireworks' for the Lonely Mountain's Durin's Day Hop in the hope that Gandalf wouldn't realise their true intention - in this version G. would have had serious debt problems after a late night gambling session with some drunken Elves & been left with a price on his head & Glorfindel on his tail for the cash).

The whole idea, sadly, fell by the wayside....
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Old 02-03-2009, 12:14 PM   #42
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Hobbit Height, once more

UT, The Disaster of the Gladden Fields, Appendix on Númenórean Linear Measures:
Quote:
The remarks [on the stature of Hobbits] in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings are unnecessarily vague and complicated, owing to the inclusion of references to survivals of the race in later times; but as far as The Lord of the Rings is concerned they boil down to this: the Hobbits of the Shire were in height between three and four feet, never less and seldom more.
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Old 02-03-2009, 06:27 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by William Cloud Hicklin View Post
I dunno- I think I can imagine Dwarves making and deploying curved plastic housings packed with C-4 and shrapnel, detonatable either by remote command or tripwire.......
I find myself reminded of this.
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Old 03-02-2009, 01:10 AM   #44
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Who cares what Dwarves used, they were such tanks it didn't MATTER! I mean am I the only person who thinks the 500 dwarves armed to the teeth with the finest weapons available in the world would cut through the soppy Laketowners and the wimpy Wood-Elves like butter? 13 dwarves alone cut through to Bolg's bodyguard after all... Haha .

Anyway, to contribute to the Roman debate, Roman warfare was designed for Men and would not suit Dwarves. It was designed to simply be as efficient as possible on a grand scale. They didn't have the finest weapons or armour available but these items were mass produced and protected the most important parts of the body. Tactics were to minimise casualties and maximise kills but tactics were very generalised. However the Roman machine's best attribute (in my opinion) was the logistical system including road building, and scouting/camping tactics. This is what really gave the Romans the edge, their efficient administration overall.

However with Dwarves it's different. The dwarves have a small and slowly growing population. Dwarven warriors are specialist troops covered in fine armour and weapons instead of mass produced mediocrity (obviously if the battle is lost the enemy gets all the armour and weapons). They can't exactly afford to fight wars of attrition with a few battles lost. So the axe is designed to take out the enemy with one stroke and win battles relatively quickly.

And dwarves were really freakin' tough. So I think they could take some beating under chainmail that would usually damage organs. Not to mention deal with a scratch from a sword which would make advantage of the lack of Dwarven shield. So axe = awesome dwarf weapon.

As for whether or not dwarves could shoot bows, bit of a stupid question. French knights didn't just learn how to ride with lances and English longbowmen didn't just learn how to draw back a bow. A lot of the time they would have to adapt for the circumstances.

Swords - too short and can't pierce armour or cut through tendons that well. They were designed for slashing at necks and torsos (dwarves are too short) or stabbing (dwarves have not got long enough reach). Also swords are all metal, while an axe is half wood. An axe saves precious dwarven metals.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:10 AM   #45
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Sting

Originally posted by Kuruharan
Quote:
The axe is not exactly a handy weapon for fighting people taller than you are as you expose yourself even more when you make your stroke.

I think a better way would have been if the dwarves fought more along the lines of the Roman legionaries whose fighting style was made to order (literally) for short people fighting taller ones.
This is semi-off topic, but that's one bit in PJ's FOTR prologue
that seemed absurd, the elves using very long scythe-type
weapons. It looks impressive but after one swipe they'd be
helpless to attack. Far better in such an orc melee charge would
be legionairre tactics and use of the gladius and a small shield.
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Old 03-02-2009, 12:30 PM   #46
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Doesn't Bard mention something about Dwarves not being suited for battle out of their caves? Maybe that was just taunting but it was certainly what the dwarves were to! So I don't think have beaten the Elves and Men so easily as you say Sixth Wizard. but I'd imagine an axe on a dwarf would be a lethal weapon swinging upwards. They're just the right height to attack umm more delicate areas of the body.
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Old 03-02-2009, 08:34 PM   #47
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13 dwarves alone cut through to Bolg's bodyguard after all... Haha
What?

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Roman warfare was designed for Men and would not suit Dwarves.
Roman tactics were designed in large measure to allow smaller physically weaker chaps form up behind nice large shields that are easy to hide behind and let the often larger enemy waste his time and energy whacking away at the shield and then suddenly punching out with shield and sword to knock over an enemy and to stab with the sword to deliver a disabling wound. Note that it was not necessary to kill the opponent, only disable them because writhing critically wounded people make a very effective barrier given enough additions to the pile.

The stabbing part is key because it is a lot easier to kill or seriously wound with a stab than it is with a slash and stabs expose much less of the body.

This style of warfare answers to the requirements and needs of the dwarves rather well in a number of respects. First of all there is the size issue. Secondly there is…

Quote:
The dwarves have a small and slowly growing population.
…which this particular style works rather well for in minimizing casualties, especially in light of the fact that the dwarves would almost always be rather outnumbered.

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stabbing (dwarves have not got long enough reach)
Hence the punching out with the shield to knock the foe off balance.

Quote:
Also swords are all metal, while an axe is half wood. An axe saves precious dwarven metals.
I rather imagine wood was a scarcer material for them than metal.

Quote:
Doesn't Bard mention something about Dwarves not being suited for battle out of their caves?
Not sure Bard had a whole lot of practical experience with them.

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I'd imagine an axe on a dwarf would be a lethal weapon swinging upwards.
That wouldn’t be a very handy way to swing.
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Old 03-02-2009, 11:56 PM   #48
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The thirteen Dwarves who cut through to Bolg's guard were the Thorin's company.

Quote:
Thorin and his companions then charged out to join the battle, covered from head to toe in the finest armour and weapons contained in the treasure hoard of Erebor. Thorin advanced through the Goblins' ranks all the way up to the gigantic Goblins that formed the bodyguard of Bolg, who he could not get past. He was outflanked and surrounded, and was forced to form his troops into a great circle.
Taken from Wikipedia, as I don't have the book on hand. But I suppose it is accurate.
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Old 03-03-2009, 07:37 PM   #49
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Taken from Wikipedia, as I don't have the book on hand. But I suppose it is accurate.
Not a statement to fill one with confidence.

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Down heedless of all order (aside...hmmm, ponder the implications of that for a moment those who think the dwarves favored a berzerker style of combat) rushed all the dwarves of Dain to his help. Down too came many of the Lake-men, for Bard could not restrain them; and out upon the other side came many of the spearmen of the elves.

-The Clouds Burst
Thorin and Company didn't cut their way through to Bolg's bodyguard all by themselves.
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Old 03-04-2009, 11:03 AM   #50
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As to bows:

I'm not sure how any Dwarven bow would be a "long" bow However, I can see the possibility that Dwarves could still be very effective archers, assuming that they accepted the years of training and practice required.

With a simple or "self" bow, both its power and its draw-weight are direct functions of its length. The classic English longbow, which was fitted to the archer by matching the length of his outstretched arms, managed (probably as a result of trial and error) to come up with the most efficient possible configuration for a simple bow, one where at full draw the bowstring makes essentially a right angle. This maximises the power available for a given draw-weight, which in English examples was as heavy as a trained man could manage.

It's certainly possible to get equal power from a shorter bow using composite construction- but the tradeoff is that, since the bow is shorter and therefore provides less leverage at the tips, the draw weight for a given power is considerably heavier; or, looking at it from a different point of view, since a short composite bow on the Asian pattern can still have a draw no heavier than a man can handle its effective power is less. In other words, a shorter bow is simply less efficient, no matter how clever its construction.

Having said all that, though, these are Dwarves- which means they might well be able to handle a draw far heavier than the 180-200 lb-f a strong man can master, and thus potentially equal a longbow's power in a dwarf-sized weapon.


Still, it seems to me that the Dwarven love of devices would have attracted them rather to the crossbow- which also doesn't require the training and practice (archery ranges underground????). Moreover, one would expect Dwarves to be able to handle hook-and-stirrup cocking of much heavier crossbows than human examples, and thus avoid the rate-of-fire penalty of the various crank systems.
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Old 03-04-2009, 03:56 PM   #51
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Crossbows were very much second-best against the Longbow in terms of range & speed of shooting (hence the use of pavises by crossbowmen - & their vulnerability without them (as with the Genoese at Crecy)). No medieval army would employ crossbowmen if they had trained Longbowmen. Of course, the English dominance in the medieval period depended on the use of the longbow in conjunction with men at arms on foot (again, Crecy dealt the death-blow to the mounted cavalry charge

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The battle of Crećy where a 16-year-old Edward the Black Prince would earn his spurs, was no chivalric battlefield. By 1346 the English had lost interest in chivalry as a military occupation. The English were massively out numbered, and the French had assumed that the knights on both sides would battle it out on horseback, and that the smaller English force would be overwhelmed, ransomed and go home ruined. But the English were playing by a new rulebook, when they arrived at the battlefield most of the knights dismounted ready to fight on foot. They were relying on the support of their non-noble longbow men. The English Longbow was not a noble weapon, and not wielded by rich young nobles, in the right hands it was to prove to be a weapon of mass destruction; The French and their allies charged with full pageantry in the first five minutes the English loosed more than 3,000 arrows, the flower of French and Genoese chivalry was cut down by archers on sixpence a day. The French Knights mercilessly rode down the survivors of their own ineffective crossbowmen soon after their Genoese allies had succumbed to the English arrow storm. Here the notion of chivalry can be seen as a means by which to avenge so-called cowardice, even though the French Knights were doomed to suffer a similar fate, annihilated by the English cloth-yard arrow. They lost 5,000 men the English a few hundred.
http://www.authorsden.com/categories...id=17&id=18826
So, the Dwarves' choice of Longbow or Crossbow probably depended on what weaponry their enemies chose).

As to the 'shieldwall' theory - probable in some cases, but its essentially a defensive tactic. You certainly can't charge in a shieldwall formation. Again, it depends entirely on the tactics of your opponents. Certainly by the time of the English Civil Wars it had been found that shieldless pikemen were more effective than any kind of shieldwall. Shields disappeared from the battlefield when armour became effective enough to require two handed weapons like poleaxes/glaives to inflict injuries. If Orcish (or Elvish come to that) armour was strong enough to ward off a blow from a one-handed sword or axe then heavier, two-handed weapons would have been called for, & you can't then use a shield (unless, as pointed out earlier, you sling it across your back -

Quote:
The dwarves are exceedingly strong for their height, but most of these were
strong even for dwarves. In battle they wielded heavy two-handed mattocks; but each of them had also a short broad sword at his side and a round shield slung at his back. Their beards were forked and plaited and thrust into their belts. (The Clouds Burst)
Seems that Tolkien envisioned both tactics - two-handed mattock for 'offence' & shield/short-sword for 'defence'.
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Old 03-04-2009, 05:53 PM   #52
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Eye Cross-bow-purposes

Hi all,

Crossbows are hypothetical in Middle Earth but I agree Dwarves (or possibly bad-guys) seem likeliest candidates if anyone used them.

They do have some advantages over longbows. The key point was that crossbows could be effective when used by poorly-trained troops but longbows needed archers with practically lifelong experience to be most effective (see Elves ). The crossbow can be more powerful, but is slower to load, however it can be kept 'cocked' for a while. This could be very useful in sieges or perhaps underground fighting when waiting for an appearing target. The relatively flat trajectory of the crossbow bolt means it can be easily fired indoors, and if necessary through small holes etc.

Saying that, the Iron Hills Dwarves included some bow-armed troops.

As Elmo commented, Bard disparaged the Dwarves' military abilities above-ground but I think he's referring to their tactics, being unaware that the Allies had concealed the bulk of their forces in ambush.
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Old 03-04-2009, 06:29 PM   #53
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Eye

Wouldn't the plusses of crossbows cited above make
them advantageous also, not just for dwarves and
orcs, but also for the comparatively advanced
technology of Gondor? Useful in defending cities and also
in street fighting if , say, old Grond poked an opening
into Minas Tirith.
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Old 03-05-2009, 01:45 AM   #54
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Part of the effect of the longbow in battle was rate of fire - an English archer could loose anything from 15-20 arrows a minute. Records for Towton in 1461 (where both sides had archers) estimate that half a million arrows were loosed in 10 minutes

Quote:
English archers have attained a mythic status down the ages because of the showy underdog victories at Crécy and Agincourt. They were nation-specific – only the English and the Welsh took on the discipline, the plebeian odium and the round loathing that came with a bow. None of the continental countries deigned to partake, preferring to be nobly kebabbed. They relied on specialist Genoese crossbowmen – the Polish plumbers of medieval battlefields. Not even the bellicose Scots and Irish could be bothered with bows, but when used in sufficient numbers and with discipline, the longbow was the lethal arbiter of battlefields for 300 years.

It was slowly replaced by gunpowder . Any terrified peasant could point and pull a trigger, but it took a lifetime of aching, deforming practice to muscle up the 100lb of tug needed to draw a yew bow to dispatch a cloth yard of willow-shafted, goose-feathered, bodkin-tipped arrow 200 yards through plate, through chain, through leather and linen and prayers, into a man’s gizzard. The longbow was the most lethally efficient dealer of death on European battlefields until the invention of rifling and the Gatling gun.

The archers stepped forward and together chucked up what they call the “arrow storm”. An English archer could fire 15 to 20 arrows in a minute – that’s what made the opening moments of battle so horrific. The eclipse of arrows would have crossed high in the frozen air, and in that moment Edward and the House of York had their touch of luck.

The thick, stinging curtain of snow slashed the faces of the Lancastrian line, making it difficult to aim or judge distance, pushing their arrows short. And it carried the arrows of York further and deeper into the Lancastrian line. God howled and cracked for Edward that morning, searing the cheeks and freezing the eyes of Lancaster.

The metal-detectors have found the long, broad trench of bodkin points, showing where the first appalling fusillade was loosed. Emptying their own quivers, they began firing back the arrows wasted by their enemies. There may have been half a million arrows fired in 10 minutes that day – the largest longbow shafting in history http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/tra...ffset=0&page=1
Now, compare that with what thus guy is doing for most of that time which would mainly be adding to the colour of the battlefield with his pretty pavise.....

The success of the archer in battles like Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt & Towton was down to rate of fire & the number of arrows that could be loosed - it depended little on accuracy - basically it was like charging into a solid, but very spiky, wall. The impact would knock you over, & then you'd have virtually no chance of getting up again before you were trampled to death (usually by your own side). Yes, you can carry a crossbow loaded & cocked, but if you missed, then once your first shot was loosed an archer could put a dozen arrows into you before you could get off a second shot. Also you have the problem of weather - at Crecy there had been a sharp rainstorm just before the battle which had weakened the strings of the crossbows carried by the Genoese, whereas the English carried spare bowstrings in their helmets which were nice & dry & could re-string their bows quickly. It was the gun which put paid to the bow, not the crossbow, & it took a long time for guns to develop to the required standard of reliability & effectiveness.

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Old 03-05-2009, 06:54 AM   #55
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While we're on the subject of bows, I had one quick question.

While watcing a program on the Crusades some time ago. I remeber them talking long about somthing called the "Saracen Draw", a method of firing a bow using the thumb rather than the first two fingers to draw the string back. I seem to recall them saying that, while generally less effective than the english method, it did have one or two advantages (it think its advantage was that while you couln't shoot quite as far, the force at which your shot hit was more reliably predictable) so my question is which draw do you think the people of ME used or did they use both? I keep think that while the west would have used the English, the sourthernly people like the Haradrim might have used the Saracen.
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Old 03-20-2009, 10:22 AM   #56
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Well, the topic has shifted away from Bezerkers (spelling?) but forgive me if I bring this up again.

As far as I know, we don't have any dwarven-centric stories except perhaps for the Hobbit (which was mostly hobbit-centric). However, what DO we know about dwarves?

-They mastered metalworking and fine crafting
-They were very long-winded and formal (think about Thorin's speech!)
-They COULD be greedy and haughty, but then this behaviour was increased by Sauron's rings, so it was perhaps not their NATURE

From the crafting I'd say they are a very technologically advanced people. However, you can't craft fine things if you are prone to fits of rage. They were clearly detail-oriented and patient. From their manner of speech I'd say there is further clue they were patient. Theoden, a masterful speaker of Rohan, has a far more... direct way of expressing himself than Thorin. Heck, HE would be a great Berzerker!

Furthermore, we have indications that the rings that Sauron gave the dwarves made them more prone to greed, which could be the reason why some of the dwarves we hear of (mostly ring owners or sons of ring owners) were rash.

Now, from a militaristic perspective. I am certainly not an expert on medieval fighting, but wouldn't fighting with a pole-arm require GREATER coordination than a shorter weapon?

You see, if you have a short weapon that can be retrieved easily after a swing, and a weapon that does not throw you off-balance or expose you greatly, you can afford to look after yourself. However, the longer a weapon is the harder it is to set up for another strike thus I'd expect the more you need to work with the people near you!

So while the image of a dwarf going insane swinging his axe in a great round circle is very enticing, I'd expect that fighting with heavy weapons was done more in formation than as individuals. They all group together and present you with a "wall of axes". If you get close by yourself you'll get chopped to pieces. If you rush them in formation they'll chop up your first line, and by the time the second line is ready to step up they've recovered their weapon.

Conversely, if you had a dwarf by himself, you approach him with two people and he's done for, because while he kills one the other has a wide open target.

So there's my ramble in the matter, i don't think that dwarven psychology or choice of weaponry really supports the idea of the lone, battle-raged dwarf.




As for the example of the thirteen dwarves rushing out of the Lonely Mountain, I'm a fairly mild-mannered individual, but if you siege me for a week or two and then start a battle with my cousin, I don't think I will be too composed when I try to chop your head off with my axe. Not to mention that thirteen dwarves can hardly make a "formation". Their best bet then was to punch a hole through the enemy and get to the OTHER dwarves so they would not be isolated!
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Old 03-20-2009, 01:09 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Farael View Post

You see, if you have a short weapon that can be retrieved easily after a swing, and a weapon that does not throw you off-balance or expose you greatly, you can afford to look after yourself. However, the longer a weapon is the harder it is to set up for another strike thus I'd expect the more you need to work with the people near you!
Tell you what - we'll try it out. You get a pen knife & I'll get hold of a broadsword & if you're right you'll win hands down with that short little swing....
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Old 03-21-2009, 05:25 PM   #58
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Tell you what - we'll try it out. You get a pen knife & I'll get hold of a broadsword & if you're right you'll win hands down with that short little swing....
And the implication, then, is if he is wrong, he will lose - and obviously he would lose, so he must be wrong? Obviously he is not entirely wrong - in some circumstances, a shorter weapon would be better than a longer weapon - so your example must be at fault.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:17 AM   #59
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Tell you what - we'll try it out. You get a pen knife & I'll get hold of a broadsword & if you're right you'll win hands down with that short little swing....
Funny, but you seem to have missed the point of my post. Not to mention, the fact that a broad sword would probably not throw an experienced fighter out of balance, it is an example of a SHORT weapon. The fact that you can find an even SHORTER weapon proves nothing.

I still stand by my idea, the longer your weapon the more you need to work with those around you, because as soon as your enemy gets within your swing, you essentially have a top-heavy club, the sharp end does you no good. Thus, you need to keep the enemy at a distance, and what best way to do so than by having your buddy chopping him up if he gets too close when you are busy?

Which leads to organized, formation-style fighting, which conflicts with the idea of a bezerker.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:54 AM   #60
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Which leads to organized, formation-style fighting, which conflicts with the idea of a bezerker.
Nope. People have been fighting with 'long' weapons (like spears) for a very long time. The point of a long weapon is that it is designed to prevent your enemy getting close to you. It has more momentum in a swing - & you don't have to hold a spear or pole-weapon by the end furthest away from the blade. You can hold it part way down the shaft.

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Poleaxes appear to have been very versatile weapons, with the ability to crush, cut or thrust. Some poleaxes even sported a spike on the butt of the haft, as illustrated in the various works of the famous fencing master Hans Talhoffer. In other words, the poleaxe (or fussstreiaxe, or bec-de-corbin or Lucerne Hammer or whatever the modern enthusiast wants to call these marvels of engineering) was a combination of the best of what several different weapons had to offer. It is worth noting that the poleaxe was very well-suited to deal with heavily armed opponents which seemed to abound after the end of the 14th century. There is little wonder then that poleaxes were employed both on the dueling ring, during knightly bouts and during pitched battles. http://www.myarmoury.com/feature_spot_poleaxe.html
Any kind of pole weapon would be designed for use against a specific enemy - if you were confronting riders you would have a weapon with a longer shaft, if an enemy on foot it would be shorter. Men at arms would train from early childhood with different weapons & were highly proficient. A pole weapon could be used in many ways - not simply the obvious one of swinging blows to sever head or limbs. You have a spear with the top spike, a staff weapon, a hook for bringing down an opponent, as well as a 'short' axe if you hold the thing part way down the shaft. And the whole point of a longer weapon is that you don't let your opponent get as close as you're envisioning. Your enemy would also probably be using a longer weapon,

Pole axe fight http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgOrHKfYuxk

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Old 03-22-2009, 05:13 AM   #61
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From the crafting I'd say they are a very technologically advanced people. However, you can't craft fine things if you are prone to fits of rage.
Hmmm...Michaelangelo was prone to fits of rage. Artists are often passionate in extremis -- in Michaelangelo's case, he's lucky that Pope Julius did not afix his head to a pole at the gates of Rome for his petulance.

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They were clearly detail-oriented and patient. From their manner of speech I'd say there is further clue they were patient. Theoden, a masterful speaker of Rohan, has a far more... direct way of expressing himself than Thorin. Heck, HE would be a great Berzerker!
Thorin's grandiloquence was only used in formal speaking engagments. He got his nick 'Oakenshield' for beating Orcs with a branch, which is definitely a sign of his 'battle fury'.

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Now, from a militaristic perspective. I am certainly not an expert on medieval fighting, but wouldn't fighting with a pole-arm require GREATER coordination than a shorter weapon?
In the late Middle-ages (particularly in the 14th and 15th centuries where my historical experience centers) halberds, pikes and bills required less formal training than shorter weapons such as swords and were often used by militias and rebel peasants to offset the great advantages of highly-trained armored knights on horseback. The stunning defeat of mounted French at the Battle of Courtrai by Flemish rebels, the Scottish victory over the English at Sterling, and the Swiss' crushing routs of Austrians at Laupen, Morgarten and Sempach and the Swiss again against the Charles the Bold in the Burgundian Wars, all relied on the halberd or pike (or a combination of the two as used by the Swiss).

So, the use of the halberd or pike required less formal training and was used to greatest effect in phalanxes, or in the Scottish case 'schiltrons'. It was indeed an infantry tool used defensively and offensively (particularly by the Swiss and later the German landsknecht) in formations. For close combat, the Swiss and landsknecht used swords and halberds (the lange spiess, or long pike was ineffective at close range).
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Old 03-22-2009, 11:13 AM   #62
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And the whole point of a longer weapon is that you don't let your opponent get as close as you're envisioning. Your enemy would also probably be using a longer weapon,
Yes, but how many enemies can you keep away at the time? One? Two? As many as they come? (This is an honest question, I BELIEVE you can only keep one or a couple at bay, but I could be wrong)

In almost all situations, the "good guys" (Dwarves, men of Gondor, elves...) were heavily out-numbered. If each acted as an individual, they'd be overwhelmed by sheer numbers but if they kept together and acted as a unit in formation they'd have a chance to defend themselves from an enemy that was (very likely) using poorer weapons and armour as well as (possibly) less trained.

So, if a dwarf with an axe can keep three or four orcs at bay (or seven or eight) then I'll concede the point, I started off my discussion by saying I didn't know much about medieval fighting.

Morthoron, Michelangelo may have been a very special person, and as I said before, Thorin was the son of a ring-bearer and we know that the rings brought out the worst of the dwarves.

Even if Thorin never wore a ring himself, you'd expect him to learn less-than-stellar behaviours from his parents, eh? So I wouldn't say he is representative of dwarves as a whole.
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Old 03-22-2009, 11:30 AM   #63
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In almost all situations, the "good guys" (Dwarves, men of Gondor, elves...) were heavily out-numbered. If each acted as an individual, they'd be overwhelmed by sheer numbers but if they kept together and acted as a unit in formation they'd have a chance to defend themselves from an enemy that was (very likely) using poorer weapons and armour as well as (possibly) less trained.

.
I think you're getting too caught up in specifics. Assuming Dwarvish were like medieval human armies I'd assume they would vary their tactics to suit the circumstances. If attacked en masse they would surely have formed some kind of shield wall to fight behind. But circumstances are all. I think you're also forgetting how quickly battles would descend into free-for alls. Once the adrenalin starts pumping & the bodies start piling up (do you know that at Towton time out was called more than once to allow the bodies to be removed from the field as it was impossible to fight for all the corpses?) things can get chaotic very swiftly. add to that weather conditions (there's a story - which I can source if you like - of a troop of men at arms frying in their armour as a result of repeated lightning strikes during a thunder storm. Towton was fought during a blizzard, & some battles would take place in fog so thick that it was impossible to see more than a few feet), disease, lack of ordinance, incompetent (or dead) comanders, & you move further & further from the kind of 'perfect' conditions you seem to imagine.

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Old 03-22-2009, 12:33 PM   #64
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Hmmm, you do have a point there. I still think the Bezerker aura comes from non-Tolkien sources, but I don't really have any evidence for either position. No, Thorin is ONE example. Furthermore, if we take Davem's word, battles grew rather chaotic and fighting desperately for one's life does not really qualify as going bezerk.
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Old 03-22-2009, 01:16 PM   #65
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Morthoron, Michelangelo may have been a very special person, and as I said before, Thorin was the son of a ring-bearer and we know that the rings brought out the worst of the dwarves.

Even if Thorin never wore a ring himself, you'd expect him to learn less-than-stellar behaviours from his parents, eh? So I wouldn't say he is representative of dwarves as a whole.
Guilt by proximity? Hmmm...I suppose that would depend on whether you were an adherent of Hobbes or Locke. I would think Thorin was fairly representative of the Dwarvish aristocracy, as he was not a run-of-the-mill Dwarf, even while in exile. But then he was not an inherently evil Dwarf, as were those that did commerce with Orcs, or allied with Sauron in the War of the Last Alliance.
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Old 03-23-2009, 07:09 AM   #66
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I don't know that even Thorin went "full berserker." I get the impression that the Thirteen drove through the Goblin-host in a tight wedge formation (or at least as tight as axe-swinging would allow). Tolkien of course was capable of envisioning such a formation, as the Numenorean dirnaith was of the type.
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Old 03-23-2009, 08:36 AM   #67
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I don't know that even Thorin went "full berserker."
Never go full berserker, man!
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Old 03-22-2017, 03:32 PM   #68
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Boots From the Wayback Machine

Somebody else has pondered this question...

Link

Interesting that he agrees with my initial assessment regarding the usefulness of shields, although not so much on the specific swords dwarves should favor.

However, I don't agree with the video in regards to strength as I think dwarves in Middle-earth are stronger than humans, which might make the big axes and hammers a viable option at least as far as damage potential. What I question is the efficiency/safety of using massive axes and warhammers as the wielder exposes oneself in their use. You don't need to make your opponent burst into ludicrous gibs through hitting them with a blow of massive strength. You need to inflict a disabling wound to them while reserving your own strength for the remainder of the fight.
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Old 05-27-2017, 10:17 PM   #69
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Thanks for bumping an old thread of yours Kuru. First time I've read it and I'm not sure if any of this will provide additional insight but figured I'd just toss up everything I've looked through for consideration.

First to Morth's point about the dwarves of the Iron Hills selection of the mattock. It wasn't just a tool they grabbed in haste to help Thorin, but agree with Morth, their preferred weapon of choice. At the battle of Azanulbizar, the dwarves of the Iron Hills come again with mattocks:

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...until at last the people of the Iron Hills turned the day. Coming late and fresh to the field the mailed warriors of Nain, Gror's son, drove through the Orcs to the very threshold of Moria, crying "Azog! Azog!" as they hewed down with their mattocks all who stood in their way.~Appendix A: Durin's Folk
Now, Dain Ironfoot is noted for having a red axe and hewing off the head of Azog. But mattocks weren't just a tool the dwarves of the Iron Hills grabbed in haste. It's noted it took three years for the Dwarves to gather their strength after Azog killed Thror.

Aragorn is awed by Gimli's skill with an axe during the battle of the Hornburg:

Quote:
"He is stout and strong," said Aragorn. "Let us hope that he will escape back to the caves. There he would be safe for a while. Safer than we. Such a refuge would be to the liking of a dwarf."
...
"If he wins back the caves, he will pass your count again," laughed Aragorn. "Never did I see an axe so wielded."
For what it's worth, when Forlong comes with his men from Lossarnach:

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Behind him marched proudly a dusty line of men, well armed and bearing great battle-axes; grim-faced they were, and shorter and somewhat swarthier than any men that Pippin had yet seen in Gondor.~Minas Tirith
If Imrahil had a bit of Elvish blood in him...maybe the Men of Lossarnach had dwarvish blood! Ok, that's quite a stretch, but then again you have the cries of Forlong the Fat, that are all too reminiscent of Bombur's notable girth.

And as far as whether the dwarves fought more berserk-like or more like a Roman unit. Is it possible to fight both in a berserk frenzy and as an organized unite? The Dwarves a tight, secretive bunch. They guard their language and don't even reveal their true names upon their deaths:

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Gimli's own name, however, and the names of all his kin, are of Northern (Mannish) origin. Their own secret and inner names, their true names, the Dwarves have never revealed to anyone of alien race. Not even on their tombs do they inscribe them.~Appendix F
Such a close-knit and guarded race, that has protected their language from all others, suggests they would be an organized fighting unit in war as well. But, reading about the Battle of Azanulbizar in the Appendix, several times wrath, anger, vengeance is mentioned about the dwarves. It could be this is just one war of the many Dwarves have fought, so it's kind of an outlier because of the special circumstances, with the death of Thror by the hand of Azog.

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When all was ready they assailed and sacked one by one all the strongholds of the Orcs that they could find from Gundabad to the Gladden. Both sides were pitiless, and there was death and cruel deeds by dark and by light. But the Dwarves had the victory through their strength, and their matchless weapons, and the fire of their anger, as they hunted for Azog in every den under mountain.~Appendix A: Durin's Folk
Is it possible to be such a close-knit race, that even in their wrath and anger, Dwarves remain an organized fighting force? Although, they achieved victory through strength, matchless weapons, and the fire of their anger...It's all rather puzzling. Perhaps as in history, try as we might to fight battles in an orderly, organized manner, they turn into free-for-alls. And in free-for-alls superior weapons, armor and fury might win the day.

Although, I don't think we can look at the dwarves through our own real-life Mannish eyes. The Dwarves have successfully guarded their language and true names as a treasured secret. It's almost like even in their battle-like fury they manage to fight together as a unit. You see, Men have to be trained to fight together in an orderly and organized unit. Dwarves, being a unit is in their nature, it's in their blood, and in their very language that they guard so close.

Your thread title is perfect brilliance Kuru. By the Way We War, I assume you meant at the time, the way Dwarves war. I am no Dwarf, and so I would say the way Dwarves war is incomprehensible to any Man, Elf, or non-dwarf. There is no human equivalence to the way the Dwarves are able to war even in berserk-fury, they remain a family unit.
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:00 AM   #70
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See, the trouble with this thread is that within a few replies it turns into the favourite nerd pastime of "Let's Play Medieval Warfare Experts By Linking To Wikipedia A Lot". Hence, I suppose, the otherwise inexplicable 3,000 or so posts about the use of the longbow in the Hundred Years' War. I mean, what does that have to do with anything?

But getting back to the original question:
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I was playing The Fourth Age the other day when something hit me.

I think Tolkien got the dwarven way of war all wrong.

I think in a way he stumbled on this little bit of an issue himself in the battle of the Hornburg when he has Gimli say…

“but I looked on the hillmen and they seemed overlarge for me”

The axe is not exactly a handy weapon for fighting people taller than you are as you expose yourself even more when you make your stroke.

I think a better way would have been if the dwarves fought more along the lines of the Roman legionaries whose fighting style was made to order (literally) for short people fighting taller ones.


There is some evidence of dwarven equipment of this type…speaking of the dwarves of the Iron Hills

“but each of them had a short broad sword at his side and a round shield slung at his back”

Now I’m not suggesting that there is really anything in that to support my idea. I’m presenting this as an idea that I had rather than something that is in any way supported by Tolkien.
Regarding the bolded passage- are Dwarves typically in the position of fighting people significantly taller than themselves? I mean, yes, they can be, but don't Gimli's words suggest he's not accustomed to fighting Men? And indeed most of the references are to Dwarves fighting Orcs, who themselves tend to be on the short side- c.f. the "huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high" in "The Bridge of Khazad-dum".
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:20 AM   #71
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Also, why are "tightly disciplined Roman legionary" and "blood-crazed, rampaging berserker" being presented as the only two possible Dwarven fighting styles?
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Old 05-28-2017, 07:47 AM   #72
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Also, why are "tightly disciplined Roman legionary" and "blood-crazed, rampaging berserker" being presented as the only two possible Dwarven fighting styles?
Ummm....because Dwarf ninjas would look kinda funny doing back-flips with Katanas.
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Old 05-28-2017, 08:19 AM   #73
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Regarding the bolded passage- are Dwarves typically in the position of fighting people significantly taller than themselves? I mean, yes, they can be, but don't Gimli's words suggest he's not accustomed to fighting Men? And indeed most of the references are to Dwarves fighting Orcs, who themselves tend to be on the short side- c.f. the "huge orc-chieftain, almost man-high" in "The Bridge of Khazad-dum".
I'm fairly sure I recall Orcs being described as roughly the same size as Dwarves, if not smaller, especially Orcs from the Misty Mountains. Also, there's a reference in HoME about it not being uncommon for Dwarves to war with Dwarves of other houses.

So, I think yes, Gimli's remark about the overlarge hillmen is his acknowledgement that Dwarves usually don't war against a significantly taller enemy.

And this battle at the Hornburg is something the movies muddle up. Saruman's attacking force wasn't 10,000 entirely his superior breed of Uruk-hai. It was a mix of Saruman's Uruk-hai, Dunlanders, and your standard/smaller Orcs.
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Old 05-28-2017, 11:26 AM   #74
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I've always had the impression that Orcs varied quite significantly in size, but that in general terms they were shorter than Men. Otherwise the height of Saruman's Uruk-hai would not have been noteworthy. To the same degree, Frodo and Sam were apparently able to convincingly disguise themselves as Orcs in Mordor, which suggests that Orcs could also be rather small. Even the larger soldier-Orcs of Mordor, Sauron's Uruks (which seem to have been different to Saruman's), appear to have been short and broad with long arms, as Grishnákh is described as being.

On the matter of axes, it might be worth noting that Dwarves and the Men of Lossarnach were not the only ones to use them. In the First Age the Elves of Doriath are described as having stores of axes alongside spears and swords, albeit after they met and began working alongside the Dwarves. Beleg brought "great strength of the Sindar armed with axes into Brethil" to the aid of the Haladin.

However, the Noldor smithed axes as weapons in Valinor before they ever met the Dwarves.

Incidentally, it might be possible that the Dwarves would deploy weapons like spears if they encountered Men or taller opponents, and favoured axes in their more common battles, which seem to have been against foes of more manageable size: Orcs and each other.

Nonetheless, I tend to think that the representation of Dwarves as using axes is more a literary device intended to make them seem exotic than a matter of realistic tactics. That is not to say that Professor Tolkien was uninterested in that kind of realism, as I believe he was, but in this case I feel like the concept is perhaps more poetic than necessarily realistic.

Personally I tend to find the idea of the Dwarves of Middle-earth fighting with swords and spears and mattocks alongside the axes more and more appealing as the years go by because knock-offs of Middle-earth have turned the association of Dwarves with axes in Professor Tolkien's work into a tiresome, obsessive cliché. As for Dwarves being depicted fighting with war hammers of all things...
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Old 05-28-2017, 06:33 PM   #75
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Also, why are "tightly disciplined Roman legionary" and "blood-crazed, rampaging berserker" being presented as the only two possible Dwarven fighting styles?
Dunno. Since Tolkien was happy to let the Dwarves use Norse names, I have no problem envisioning them fighting in the Viking fashion, which made use of both the shieldwall and berserker rage. And lots of axes.

(NB: although two-handers or "Dane axes" became the principal weapon of Saxon huscarles and the Varangian Guard towards the end of the Viking era, most Viking fighting axes were one-handers of about 14-18", ideal for using from behind a shield. Gimli keeps his tucked into his belt, which means a one-hander rather than the absurd Frazetta fantasy that movie-Gimli carried.)
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:27 AM   #76
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Boots

Another YouTuber has posted a video on this issue.

Apparently dwarves are popular right now.
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Old 06-20-2017, 07:57 AM   #77
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1420!

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Another YouTuber has posted a video on this issue.

Apparently dwarves are popular right now.
Aw, how nice for you, Kuru.
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Old 06-20-2017, 09:18 AM   #78
Kuruharan
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nerwen View Post
Aw, how nice for you, Kuru.
It is...*\o/*...sorta.
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Old 07-03-2017, 07:11 AM   #79
Kuruharan
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Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.Kuruharan is battling Black Riders on Weathertop.
Boots The thick continues to plotten

Another link.
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