king of nowhere

why power wrought swords?

30 posts in this topic

This is one thing that has always left me puzzled, but I'm asking only now.

In the war of power, the power was used as a weapon. in the third age, there are still several dozens (probably) power-wrought swords. We can assume they were quite common.

But the war of power was fought in an age much more advanced than our. they had aes sedai channeling, they had shocklances, and even if they didn't have future weapon, they could have easily taken some old rifle from a musemum and reverse enginner it. And should have known explosive from civilian use anyway, and plenty of civilian technology that could be adapted for military use. Basically, they should have had advanced armies.

So why the hell did they made swords? What was the point, with all the more advanced weapons available? We've seen when grady makes a hammer for perrin that it is a long and tiring process requiring a channeler; they could use the same effort to make a more useful weapon. No matter how well it cuts, a sword stand no chance of even being used in a modern army.

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This is one thing that has always left me puzzled, but I'm asking only now.

In the war of power, the power was used as a weapon. in the third age, there are still several dozens (probably) power-wrought swords. We can assume they were quite common.

But the war of power was fought in an age much more advanced than our. they had aes sedai channeling, they had shocklances, and even if they didn't have future weapon, they could have easily taken some old rifle from a musemum and reverse enginner it. And should have known explosive from civilian use anyway, and plenty of civilian technology that could be adapted for military use. Basically, they should have had advanced armies.

So why the hell did they made swords? What was the point, with all the more advanced weapons available? We've seen when grady makes a hammer for perrin that it is a long and tiring process requiring a channeler; they could use the same effort to make a more useful weapon. No matter how well it cuts, a sword stand no chance of even being used in a modern army.

The war of power was one long slide downwards, and many technologies were lost along the way, especially those that needed an industrial base to support. By the end of the war, just before the breaking, soldiers were fighting with swords and riding on horses, rather than the Age of Legends gun and tank equivalents.

Because of this, technologies that could be done by a small group of people without major support became a lot more useful. In this situation, power-wrought weapons could be made on a fairly small scale, and could support troops who no longer had guns.

Presumably, making power-wrought weapons was lost during the Breaking, not before. Otherwise your question would become a lot more relevant.

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Hmm... I f I had to guess there may have been several reasons:

1. The swords were originally just for sports like fencing or historical reenaction, and were made in limited quantities. Then, during the war, at first they didn't know anything about advanced weapons and made do with what they have, only gradually making stuff like shocklances.

2. At the end of the war, they no longer had resources and skilled people to make advanced weaponry, and swords were made as a last resource, since it didn't take so much skill.

Anything in-between, like making sword a secondary weapon for close combat, for bloody sports favoured by Dark side, etc...

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You also have to think that the first time creating something is always the hardest. Once you know how to do it, it becomes easier to do.

Sword do have some major advantages over high technology. They never run out of ammo. You don't need gas or power to keep them going. Anyone can use one. There is an excellent book that describes how the German army was far superior to the Russian army at the beginning, but once it was worn down, the advantage was lost. Now imagine that going on for years, decades, or centuries. Eventually you are throwing rocks and sharpened pieces of wood. Look at how the 70s oil embargo affected the US economy. It really doesn't take all that much to lose knowledge on how to make something. How many people these days can actually whip up a batch of black powder from scratch?

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Another thing I always wondered was why the heck aren't there any Cuendillar swords? Or shields even? making Cuendillar seems to be a much faster and less power-intensive activity.

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Another thing I always wondered was why the heck aren't there any Cuendillar swords? Or shields even? making Cuendillar seems to be a much faster and less power-intensive activity.

That is something else I wondered, on the line of "why don't egwene craft a cuendiollar armor for herself and gawin". it would be extremely light because it could be much thinner than regular armor, the only limit being how thin the blacksmith can work it, and would resist even balefire. it still would have weaknesses because it cannot completely enclose the body, but still no reason not to use one. and egwene can make one in seconds.

I was however waiting to read amol before asking questions that could be spoilerirffic like "they did, in amol".

For example I was thinking that the people of hinderstap could be gated everywhere and used as kamikaze soldiers, since they will wake up in their beds tomorrow no matter what. Then I read somewhere that mat actually did it. A few spoilers I couldn't avoid reading.

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Power-wrought ammunition would actually be less effective than ordinary ammunition. A lot of a bullet's lethality comes from its ability to deform and expand, which cuendillar and Power-wrought metal can't do.

Most forms of armor couldn't be made of cuendillar, because of this property combined with the fact that the weave fuses multiple pieces of metal into one: you'd end up with a rigid suit that can't move or pieces that can't be fastened together. You might be able to do something like lorica squamata (a bunch of metal scales with small holes in them, sewn in an overlapping pattern onto a leather backing), but you'd have to enchant each scale individually, and there are hundreds of these scales in a suit. The coin mail used by Bao the Wyld could probably also be made of cuendillar, but it would suffer from similar problems. Plus, with so many holes in it, I'm not sure that particular style of armor could protect against balefire even if it were made of cuendillar.

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I think shields would be more useful than full suits of armor, I don't think you could completely protect from Balefire no matter what you used but for other weaves or regular old Shadowspawn it should work.

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Cuendilar does stop balefire, but it's completely inflexible and somewhat difficult to manufacture. In addition to being difficult to make into armor, there's no way to change how it fits if the original owner dies. And it wouldn't protect against being surrounded by superheated air, so channelers could still kill anyone wearing it. The advantages of troops that are extremely difficult to counter without channeling but make obvious targets for them wouldn't make up for exhausting the channelers who manufactured the armor.

As for power-wrought swords, I've started to question the belief that the War Of Power was high-tech. Demandred apparently has considerable experience commanding pikes and cavalry, which seems odd if the only war he's ever been in was a tanks, aircraft, and guns show. There's a couple of possibilities that spring to mind:

1. Age Of Legends tech was never really satisfactorily converted to war. Shocklances were actually pikes/spears which created a powerful discharge on a hit to burn through armor. The fliers and jo-carts engaged in jousting.

2. Age Of Legends tech ran off Ter'angreal pretty heavily, and there was some method of interfering in its operation on the field, so it was inert for many major engagements.

3. Gateway attacks and the general progress of the war destroyed most of the industrial base on both sides, so they could never arm all that many people with high tech.

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It might not completely protect from superheated air but it's a perfect insulator so it would offer a fair amount of protection, as long as it wasn't a continuous stream of fire it would be fine.

As for exhausting the channelers who make them, as long as you don't keep them making them all the way through the fighting they'd be ok, the Aes Sedai already had a system for doing this, if they'd just made some shields of Cuendillar instead of a bunch of jars or whatever then then that'd be helpful.

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It can't be contiguous, though. They need to be able to move and breathe. I don't think it would help much against a direct strike.

As for manufacturing it before battle, I got the sense that the war didn't have much in the way of pauses. Even if no fighting was ongoing, a new attack could be launched at any time and any place. Any channeler working on manufacturing cuendillar would be less useful if they were needed to gate in and reinforce the front lines.

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Thinking back to Bao's coin-mail, there probably wouldn't be any benefit to making it out of cuendillar. The wire used to tie the coins together would still have to be made of something else, and cuendillar "coins" would simply deflect blows into the weaker wire, and so the armor would only be as strong as that. Plus, balefire would get through the holes anyway.

Scales should still work (unless the weave for cuendillar patches any preexisting holes in the metal; I forget if it does), but you'd still have to enchant each one individually, and that's probably the most practical style you could do. Also, these styles of armor all have a major weakness: they're flexible. Swap your sword out for a mace and start bashing, and even if the scales don't get damaged, they'll still transmit the energy of the strike to the wearer. Scales that could deform would absorb at least some of that energy, softening the blow a bit; cuendillar can't. End result: cuendillar armor isn't actually all that much better than mundane metals, and in some cases it's actually worse.

But as others have pointed out, cuendillar should still be good for making shields. I don't know why they didn't do that.

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Well channelers typically go for the fireball approach to killing people, you don't need a complete enclosed suit of armour for that, a shield that won't break or heat up incredibly from the impact would do. They might be slightly less useful in the event of a sudden surprise attack but you have to weigh that against the potentially thousands of soldiers they could equip with a basic shield to block. And the only real reason you need them to be at full strength is to fight against channelers, if they're making armorr to protect soldiers from channelling then they're doing the same thing, just more reliably, they don't know when they might be needed for battle but they could always be making armour.

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Whether or not a shield could protect from a fireball has a lot to do with how Fire (in the One Power sense) interacts with the laws of physics. Real fire would superheat the air around it to the point of lethality, so a shield alone wouldn't be enough to protect people: the fireball would still get too close. But this is fiction, and it's magical fire, so Convection Schmonvection may be in effect.

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Real fire would superheat the air around it to the point of lethality,

That depends entirely upon the fire and how far away you are from it, since most channelers need a throwing motion and if they don't still have the fireball start relatively close to them I find it unlikely that they are heated to temperatures which would cause lethal harm from that kind of distance.

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You really wouldn't need an entire suit. Just a chest piece would protect the torso from arrows and the like. Of course, you would have to be on a perpetual diet as you wouldn't be able to resize it very easily. Have a separate helmet to block head blows, and you would be impervious to almost any lethal physical attack.

As for the magical aspect. Why go with Cuendillar when you can have something like Mat's amulet. Much smaller, more easily hidden, and easier to make once you get the idea of how.

Wearing a helmet and chest piece made of Cuendillar and one of Mat's amulets, you would have a soldier immune to the One Power and any most fatal blows from physical combat. True, you would leave legs and arms open, but those are rarely instantly fatal, and you could always use normal metal to protect them as they are less important to keep the soldier alive.

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Ter'angreal take longer to make, Elayne is the only one who can make them with any consistency and Mats amulet doesn't protect against the effects of the One Power just the actual weaves, a fireball would probably still kill you, and lightning definitely would. I think Cuendillar would be better, although if you could have both I guess that would be the best.

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You really wouldn't need an entire suit. Just a chest piece would protect the torso from arrows and the like. Of course, you would have to be on a perpetual diet as you wouldn't be able to resize it very easily. Have a separate helmet to block head blows, and you would be impervious to almost any lethal physical attack.

Not necessarily. Attacks can't get through cuendillar, but there are attacks that don't have to. Pick up a mace and aim for the head: you won't get through the helmet, but you'll give the target one hell of a concussion. Something very similar happened in the real world as thick plate became the norm. It's another step in the arms race, but it isn't the end of the arms race.

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Yes but a mace would also kill you if you weren't wearing cuendillar, and since cuendillar doesn't deform the blow would be spread over the whole area of the plate or helm so it could still reduce the damage taken, it wont make them invincible but it would sure help a lot.

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Yes but a mace would also kill you if you weren't wearing cuendillar, and since cuendillar doesn't deform the blow would be spread over the whole area of the plate or helm so it could still reduce the damage taken, it wont make them invincible but it would sure help a lot.

Not really, for two reasons. Because cuendillar doesn't deform, it also can't absorb any energy of the blow. The end result is that it transmits more force to the user, and while this is perhaps spread out over a wider area, a helmet isn't all that much larger than a mace head. How much the force gets spread out, I don't know, but the greater force transmitted may be enough to cancel that benefit.

Also, we're talking about head injuries, so you have to consider both coup (the initial impact site) and contre-coup (the point opposite the impact site, where the brain bounces back from the initial impact and hits the skull wall again). Contre-coup takes place entirely inside the wearer's head, where cuendillar (or any helmet) can't be of help: cuendillar is no worse than other metals here, but neither is it any better.

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Not really, for two reasons. Because cuendillar doesn't deform, it also can't absorb any energy of the blow. The end result is that it transmits more force to the user

A crumple zone of less than a centimetre isn't going to do an awful much, padding underneath Plate is usually what provides cushioning from crushing attacks, and would still be worn.

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agreed that cuendillar won't make you invincible, but it certainly don't hurt either.

the main advantage of it over regular armor is that it could be much thinner, and thus lighter. the problem of armor is that it wheights a lot, and it exhaust you sooner when you fightwith cuendillar you could make an effective armor wheight less than 1 kilogram, so you can wear it under your clothes without any problem. It also would never require any maintenance at all.

I was specifically thinking of egwene because she could make one in seconds, for herself and for her closer friends/allies.

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I think that the main problem is that the necessary skills and knowledge are never brought together. Some people are starting to develop advanced weaponry, some people have rediscovered how to make Cuendillar and some people have figured out how to make Power-wrought weapons, but none of them are actually the same people. On top of that you need someone with the right sort of mindset to think of new ways of combining these different abilities and someone with the military knowledge to know how to apply them to warfare, as well as to teach people how to effectively use them.

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It's actually fairly understandable why the White Tower hasn't been doing it. Although it rarely comes up, one of the Three Oaths is "I swear to make no weapon with which one man may kill another". Armor doesn't technically count, but that's splitting hairs even for Aes Sedai.

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The notion that a modern army doesn't use melee weapons... THE most useful tool in the trenches of WWI was the entrenching tool, you can dig, if there is fighting in the trenches you have a almost perfect weapon, you don't need supply (for this weapon, for yourself and the other weapons you still need it). Even today infantry is trained in melee. Against enemies that have superhuman hardiness, modern weapons are not really useful as they make small wounds, compared to a blade.

Also the technology of the Age of Legends seems to be based on the One Power, so no explosives, no firearms, no materials science. And while the ressources (channelers) are enough for normal life, when they are needed constantly...

Lastly, as said before, civilisation regressed over the war, making martial weaponry even more important.

 

The thing with cuendillar is curious though. It is ideal for armor, and every armor would benefit from it (yes, even plate and mail. Plate isn't made in one piece, mail neither. They're both assembled at the end. Granted with mail the effort rises exponentially (every ring by itself turned into Cuendillar and then assembled. That's why mail was so expensive, and today is more expensive than plate)). I guess that the process needs more strength in the power than power-wrought smithing.

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