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Sword Dancers 14/23

Sword Dancers 14/23 published on 34 Comments on Sword Dancers 14/23

Sigrún: Our firing range. We use a standard-issue sidearm: the Polar M38 Repeating Crossbow.

Line up . . . Aim . . . Fire!


Thorn: Nice shooting! I admit we haven’t trained on these weapons, but we’ll give it our best.

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Nice groupings. Are these the equivalent to an M9 pistol? What’s the effective range? What’s the mechanism on these?

I feel like this entire storyline I’m just smiling and nodding politely or whatever the internet equivalent is. I’m so interested, I want to know whats going on…but I know absolutely nothing about sword fighting or crossbows or guns. Every time you post, I spend like half an hour trying to figure out exactly what the significance is.

I guess that’s a long winded way of asking what equivalent to an M9 pistol means.

The M9 pistol was for a very long time the standard sidearm for the US military, a 9mm pistol carrying a 15 round magazine with an effective range of up to 100 meters. NCOs and above are required to qualify for pistols in the Marine Corps along with their yearly rifle qual. Though in all honesty the pistol is more of a holdout than anything else; if the bad guys close to pistol range and you couldn’t take them out with your rifle you’ve got bigger problems.

That’s because a pistol isn’t meant to fight fully-equipped soldiers and win. They are not replacement for rifles. They are meant either as backups in case your rifle brakes (mostly to hold off the enemy, you are boned if they have body armor), a weapon when you can’t or don’t carry a rifle (say, you are military-police or security or so on) or merely a weapon to protect yourself with while going about (say, an officer going about places where they might be attacked).

A good quote, which might not be exact, “The pistol is the weapon I use to get to my real weapon”.

…Yes, thank you, I know that, it’s why I’m asking if this crossbow is the equivalent or if it’s somehow a primary.

Those don’t look like repeating crossbows. Where is the magazine well or other mechanism for storing more arrows? How are they a repeating crossbow without that? For that matter, what about the shoulder stocks? Those look like charging handles.

These look like the crossbow pistols I own. And I’m sorry, but the pose they use them with is really wrong in panel 2. They are holding handgun weapons like rifles and even then they are doing it wrong (neither are aiming DOWN the sights, they look like they are just holding the weapon next to themselves).

Let’s just say I had a heck of a time finding reference images for this sequence, and did the best I could with what was out there.

At least the arrows question is easy: they’re stored in the same fourth-dimensional pocket where magical girls keep their transformation wands and Alexander Anderson holds all his bayonets.

To be fair, as a casual reader not super-interested in the minutiae of pre-gunpowder weapons, it was well below the threshold of “wait, what?” for me.

As a creator of original content, there will always be things your readers know more about than you. If I stopped writing every time I was unsure of the details of some bit of chemistry or couldn’t find a source telling me what color some historical figure’s eyes were, I’d never actually write anything.

TL:DR I don’t fault you in the least for going “meh, it’s a crossbow.” You put out a new strip five days a week and post something daily, so I’m not about to get irritated as long as what I’m seeing makes sense.

I actually agree. It’s really only one panel and at the rate of five strips a week, it’s no surprise that some stuff like this comes up. This is fairly professional-grade production and every artists makes stuff like this.

I would like to note that I am not annoyed with this strip. It’s just a bit jarring.

I would guess that’s because you were trying to find people using repeating crossbows? What I am surprised is why did you find people using THOSE crossbows in particular. I actually own a model like that or similar (a Cobra crossbow pistol, I think).

What jars me a bit isn’t the weapon or the pose, but the two together. They are trying to use a handgun (or hand-crossbow) like a rifle.

If I can give you advice, just use images for people using rifles (shooting competition shots might good place to start, because those are likely to have good technique as well). Or hunters using hunting crossbows.

The thing is that if you have magic providing arrows, then you might as well have magic pulling the mechanism (which is a big deal with crossbows). Which in effect doesn’t give you repeating crossbows, but full-auto crossbows (like a machine-gun) that are mostly like rifles except they have a bow. If you use magic for acceleration (and if you are modifying dimensions to make the thing work, why not?), you can even get rid of the rail.

Frankly, the weapon would be a modern rifle at that point except for the loud gunpowder part.

Just to clarify one point:

The point of repeating crossbows IRL was that they were defensive weapons. They were the closest thing medieval people had to a machine gun: lots of arrows downrange very fast. Either one-man standing (Weapon Masters has a great episode on this) or mounted. The arrows were actually weaker and less accurate than a “proper” crossbow.

How fast your magic crossbows shoot would depend on how fast can the magitech mechanism works. Note that they likely would have a selector for that, so it isn’t just spraying but well-aimed shots (which is actually preferred).

A magitech crossbow from a weapon-design standpoint is actually quite fabulous. Just look up “trick arrow” in TVtropes. Add rails and you can endless number of dodads, from various scopes through a smaller weapon to chainsaw bayonets. Not that a chainsaw bayonet is useful for anything except maybe in-field lumberwork but the point is that there are lots of possibilities.

Oh, and a small point: if you are using magitech this way, these things would be barely distinguishable from guns (except for the noise). Crossbows with enough power and fancy head (directoinal-explosives) can go through armor (except maybe the high-tier). Note that modern battlefield armor used by soldiers can also withstand rifle shots.

Rifle shots from hundreds of meters away though. Put the armor closer than maybe 100-150 meters and you’re piercing that armor with your typical ball round. 50 meters and closer and your armor is just a simple way to keep the parts together.

I’m more concerned about weapons maintenance. Do the magitech components require constant “refill” of magic? How fragile are the non-magic components? Is the boss going to put crossbow bolts through us for going on such long tangents like this about such a small detail in a wider world like we’re Star Wars fans debating blasters vs lightsabers?

Now I just want to see one of Thorn’s team pick one of these crossbows up and just get perfect bullseyes, just to see the reactions of Sigrún’s team

I’d settle for five shots under/touching a quarter-crown/mark piece.

Theoretical Ceannic Knight:”Of course, not trained on YOUR weapons doesn’t mean not trained on OUR equivalents.”

Of course, if the Sønska guards REALLY wanted to compare skills, they’d be using the Ceannic crossbows while the Ceannic Knights are using Sønska the crossbows. Equal unfamiliarity.

I am not speaking from experience, but maybe the weapon difference isn’t that important? This is static target shooting without a timer, so they are under little pressure and don’t have to move about, change positions often, etc. Stuff that might work wrong when you are using something that’s the wrong shape than the one ingrained into your muscles memory (say reloading, where reloading a bullpup and a regular rifle would trip you up badly under pressure). Unless the sights are radically different, aiming skills should transfer. Same would go for the weapon design. So unless these weapons are very different, they’d probably do decently here.

Yes. That’s why I emphasized tightness of shot, over ‘accuracy’.

If you’re practiced at aiming, assuming the sights don’t slip, you should be able to get a tight grouping, even if the sight is crooked. get yourself in a steady stance, and keep your limbs as close to the same position as you fire as you can manage, and even if you don’t hit the bullseye, it’s a demonstration of skill.

The ‘Quarter’ remark I made is actually referencing a specific qualification I was held to working at a Boy Scout Camp. We didn’t have time to zero the sights in for every Scout, so we didn’t care about bullseyes, we cared about how tight your grouping was, and discouraged ‘walking’ your shots to HIT the bullseye. if your shots could touch the rim of a Quarter-US Dollar piece, it was a successful fusillade.

Eh, it’s debatable. Just an example, the iron sights and ergonomics on an AK derivative are different from those on an AR model, meaning that even at close range you’re liable to have some habits from either that can’t carry over to the other. As far as aiming goes, the key factors we were taught are grip, sight picture and alignment, breathing control, and trigger control. While a crossbow is certainly less susceptible to recoil, poor trigger discipline will send bolts all over the damn place.

Looking at the picture again though, maybe we’re just looking from a bad angle? The way Alruna is holding their crossbow looks like a rifle stance, though that’s gotta be a painful stock to put in your shoulder.

It’s not a stock. It’s a lever you pull to pull the bowstring back. This weapon is a pistol (including size), hence why I pointed out that they holding it wrong.

That pointed end in Alruna’s shoulder? How the gell does that action work? Bear in mind, I don’t know crossbows, this is all entirely based on firearms.

Short answer: Look up “cobra crossbow pistol”.

Longer answer: What you don’t see is a small secondary rail that is under the main one (that has the arrow). The rail has houses two little “claws” (not likely to be called that) that normally sit beyond the string. When you pull the lever in the back down, these claws are slid back and pull the bowstring along with them until the crossbow is fully cocked. You then push the lever back into its place.

What you must understand that this particular crossbow pistol is not a serious weapon or tool for hunting. It can injure and kill, and it has a high draw-weight, but it has too small a bow to make it a truly dangerous weapon.

Correction: it MIGHT kill but the same way a BB gun or a kid’s bow might kill. You might shoot and kill small birds or game, but it is a poor hunting weapon for that. It doesn’t have very good range. It’s a more dangerous toy.

So question- What exactly decides what a HeartWeapon can be? Did swords come first, or did a dude pull a sword out of his chest and a blacksmith went “I want 20 of those, time to figure out how they’re made”? Because if HeartWeapon shapes update as new weapons come to be, someone could wind up drawing a heart crossbow or, if this world makes them, a heart gun. Or is it more on the lines of ‘people who can draw heart weapons will only draw something with a blade’? Because that doesn’t rule out bayonets.

The short answer is, magic!

The long answer is, Rhodón was the first person who came up with the idea, and everyone else is copying her process. So they all get bladed weapons, mostly swords. And that doesn’t mean “literally any object with a blade taped on somewhere.” In theory you could get a bayonet — but you wouldn’t get the gun to go with it.

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