Created By: Jonti on October 29, 2011 Last Edited By: DAN004 on January 18, 2016

Racial Weapon Affinity

Certain fantasy races tend to favor certain weaponry

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Trope
DAN 004 wuz ere takin over ur druft

Needs a Better Description

Simply put, this trope is about the tendency in fiction for certain races to use certain weapons. Most of this probably goes back to Tolkien, and is now endemic across fantasy literature as a minimum. Dwarf, Elves and Humans are the most likely to meet these archetypes. Mostly because the other races vary more in depiction. Compare Tolkien's Trolls with Blizzard's for example.

This stems from how different races have different kind of cultures and viewpoints, including in deciding what kind of weapon they choose. Maybe it's out of pragmatism - races who labors themselves every day would like to use axes or hammers, as they're also tools for working. Maybe it's part of a symbolism that the race believes in - their god, or high leader, likes spears, so they use spears. Although for the most part, it tends to go unexplained, or is only explained in an out-of-universe way.


Examples

Literature
  • J. R. R. Tolkien's Tolkien's Legendarium, in particular The Lord of the Rings. Elves (e.g. Legolas) use bows and dwarves (e.g. Gimli) use axes.
    • Dwarves use axes because they're functional (cutting power with all the force that can pierce armor too). Dwarves are a force, capable of good in the Tolkien universe, yet they don't value beauty and are stubborn enough that they don't get along well enough with the other races. Dwarves have probably developed a martial art that doesn't rely on grace - in other words, if they don't defeat an opponent on the first swing, they've lost. Because an axe is slow and not particularly great for parrying.
    • Humans use swords because they're both beautiful and functional, and suited to a very specific purpose (dueling and clean and highly efficient killing of opponents that wear minimal armor in a medieval setting). Mankind is also greedy enough to take into consideration the skill of the wielder and what can be done with a sword. In man's typical pride, every man carries a sword in order to tell others that they're skilled enough to go beyond the sword's normal design constraints in killing an armored opponent; even though they're lying 99% of the time.
    • Elves use bows, because bows are incredibly tactically useful, able to kill an opponent from range. To make full use of a bow though, requires exorbitant skill (not to mentional physical strength). Since in Tolkien, Elves are supreme - Elf soldiers are thus very good with bows.
  • Deverry. Katherine Kerr's 15 book epic matches the Dwarf, Elf and Human standards. -ZCE
  • Raymond E. Feist's The Riftwar Cycle series matches up the Dwarf, Elf and Humans again. -ZCE
  • In Discworld;
    • It's justified dwarves use axes because they're miners who traditionally used dual purpose picks (a pick on one side for prospecting and an axe on the other in case someone disputed your claim) and they're important to the point that Vimes (a textbook Knight in Sour Armour) feels guilty about asking a group of them to leave them outside his office after some dwarves had just tried to kill his family. The traditional bodyguards for religious figures also wield flamethrowers, derived from mining equipment intended to clear away flammable gas.
    • Trolls have clubs as their cultural weapon (although Detritus, a member of the watch, uses a ballista).
    • Werewolves normally just attack in their wolf form (Angua is mentioned as reluctantly accepting a dagger in a Lock and Load Montage).
    • Humans mostly seem to use swords.
  • In the Dragonlance world, Kenders use their Hoopaks (think of a pointy staff with a slingshot on the top), Minotaurs are proud of using weapons like katars and shatangs (a type of one-handed spear), Nerakian warriors (evil humans) prefers scimitars.
  • Drizzt Do'Urden, a Drow warrior of Forgotten Realms (in)famously fights with twin scimitars and since a lot of people like to play as characters who are basically Drizzt, that weapon selection is associated with the Drow.

Live-Action TV
  • Star Trek: Klingons use the Batleth in personal combat. They are proficient in other kinds of bladed weapons, but they're mainly seen with Batleth.
    • Ferengi mainly uses plasma whips.

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons 1st Edition
    • In the 1E Monster Manual 45% of NPC dwarves are armed with axes, and several illustrations in the 1E Player's Handbook show dwarves with axes.
    • In the 1E Monster Manual and Player's Handbook, both NPC and PC elves receive a plus one racial bonus with bows.
  • In Pathfinder, non-human races get free proficiencies with weapons associated with their race, such as elves automatically knowing how to use longbows and longswords (technically, martial weapons that need specialized warrior training). Additionally, there are exotic weapons with racial monikers in their names, such as the "elven curve blade" or the "orc double axe": specified races are automatically proficient with them, while all others have to take entire feats to learn how to use them.

Video Games
  • In the Drakensangseries, Dwarves are associated with axes and hammers (they count as the same weapon type ingame) but also spears and crossbows. Curiously enough, the Goblins use distinctive axes most of the time.

Web Original
Community Feedback Replies: 35
  • October 29, 2011
    Bisected8
    • In Discworld;
      • It's justified dwarves use axes because they're miners who traditionally used dual purpose picks (a pick on one side for prospecting and an axe on the other in case someone disputed your claim) and they're important to the point that Vimes (a textbook Knight In Sour Armour) feels guilty about asking a group of them to leave them outside his office after some dwarves had just tried to kill his family. The traditional bodyguards for religious figures also wield flamethrowers, derived from mining equipment intended to clear away flamable gas.
      • Trolls have clubs as their cultural weapon (although Detritus, a member of the watch, uses a ballista).
      • Werewolves normally just attack in their wolf form (Angua is mentioned as reluctantly accepting a dagger in a Lock And Load Montage).
      • Humans mostly seem to use swords.
  • October 29, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Star Trek: Klingons use the Batleth in personal combat.
  • October 30, 2011
    SolidSamurai
    If you want to feel complete about this, then this needs to be said: - Dwarves use axes, why? Because they're functional (cutting power with all the force that can pierce armor too). Dwarves are a force, capable of good in the Tolkien universe, yet they don't value beauty and are stubborn enough that they don't get along well enough with the other races. Dwarves have probably developed a martial art that doesn't rely on grace - more, every way to axe somebody. In other words, if they don't defeat an opponent on the first swing, they've lost. Because an axe is slow and not particularly great for parrying.

    - Man uses swords because they're both beautiful and functional, and suited to a very specific purpose (dueling and clean and highly efficient killing of opponents that wear minimal armor in a medieval setting). Mankind is also greedy enough to take into consideration the skill of the wielder and what can be done with a sword. In man's typical pride, every man carries a sword in order to tell others that they're skilled enough to go beyond the sword's normal design constraints in killing an armored opponent; even though they're lying 99% of the time.

    - Hobbits are soft and cute. If they're feeling plucky, they'll use a staff - because it typically has great reach and it will subdue an opponent, so that their bigger human friend can finish it off with his sword. Without a staff, a typical hobbit wouldn't have much of a chance against taller folk (why does Frodo use a sword? obviously, Gandalf, a valar who thought like men, wanted to honor him).

    - Elves use bows, because bows are incredibly tactically useful. Kill an opponent from range? To make full use of a bow though, requires exhorbitant skill (not to mentional physical strength). Since in Tolkien, Elves are supreme - Elf soldiers are thus very good with bows.
  • October 30, 2011
    Ryuuma
    • In the Dragon Lance world, Kenders use their Hoopaks (think of a pointy staff with a slingshot on the top), Minotaurs are proud of using weapons like katars and shatangs (a type of one-handed spear), Nerakian warriors (evil humans) prefers scimitars.
    • Furthermore, if a whole race generally prefers scimitars, then they'll probably be evil.
    • In the Drakensangseries, Dwarves are associated with axes and hammers (they count as the same weapon type ingame) but also spears and crossbows. Curiously enough, the Goblins use distinctive axes most of the time.
  • October 30, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG : 1008. Texans do not get revolvers as a racial weapon proficiency.
  • October 30, 2011
    Ghilz
    Klingons would be blades in general. They carry both daggers and guns as side arms, and tend to favor using the former. Klingons have a bunch of blades beside the Bat'leth.
  • October 30, 2011
    ClockStopping
    Couple more from Things Mr Welch Is No Longer Allowed To Do In An RPG:
    • 151. Halflings do not have a racial proficiency with the flamethrower.
    • 890. Dwarves do not get Roto-Rooters as racial weapons.

  • October 30, 2011
    dyson88
    Ferengi used plasma whips in some episodes of Star Trek
  • October 30, 2011
    Hadashi
    Frodo uses a sword because Bilbo gave it to him - its name is Sting. If I remember rightly a more common racial weapon of hobbits is the slingshot (though mostly in D&D). This is obviously a David and Goliath reference, but it is also immensely practical, though, in one very memorable occurrence a Tolken hobbit, Farmer Giles of Ham, takes on a dragon with a home-made blunderbus. I think it's mentioned in the hobbit when Bilbo says "There's no dragons round these parts, not since...."
  • November 1, 2011
    Tambov333
    Gandlaf isn't a Vala. He's one of the Mayar, which are lower on the power scale. And Giles of Ham isn't a hobbit at all, but a human. In fact, his story explicitly takes place in Britain around 4th-5th century CE.
  • November 1, 2011
    Queequeg
    District9. Humans can only use regular weapons while aliens use their cool techno-weapons.
  • January 11, 2016
    henke37
  • January 11, 2016
    DAN004
    Who's managing this?
  • January 11, 2016
    shimaspawn
    Congrats, Dan. Have a YKTTW. It's yours now.
  • January 12, 2016
    Arivne
    • De-capitalized (Axes, Bows, Swords, Staves, Clubs, The).
    • Added #'s to auto-number a list.
    • Corrected spelling (thugish, ammendments).
    • Examples section

    The other OP examples are Zero Context Examples. They need more specific information about how they fit the trope.
  • January 12, 2016
    Arivne
    Tabletop RPG
    • Dungeons And Dragons 1st Edition
      • In the 1E Monster Manual 45% of NPC dwarves are armed with axes, and several illustrations in the 1E Player's Handbook show dwarves with axes.
      • In the 1E Monster Manual and Player's Handbook, both NPC and PC elves receive a plus one racial bonus with bows.
  • January 12, 2016
    DAN004
    Well if you're telling me to take over... I don't mind. (I was asking for anybody else to take it first)
  • January 12, 2016
    Koveras
    • In Pathfinder, non-human races get free proficiencies with weapons associated with their race, such as elves automatically knowing how to use longbows and longswords (technically, martial weapons that need specialized warrior training). Additionally, there are exotic weapons with racial monikers in their names, such as the "elven curve blade" or the "orc double axe": specified races are automatically proficient with them, while all others have to take entire feats to learn how to use them.
  • January 12, 2016
    DAN004
    I'm expecting a Star Craft example.
  • January 13, 2016
    Snicka
    Hobbit types may also use daggers, since they are small enough for their size.
  • January 13, 2016
    Hodor2
    Drizzt Do'Urden, a Drow warrior of Forgotten Realms (in)famously fights with twin scimitars and since a lot of people like to play as characters who are basically Drizzt, that weapon selection is associated with the Drow.

    In relation to this, the The Order Of The Stick character Zz'dtri, a parody of Drizzt, has the requisite twin scimitars, although being a Squishy Wizard, he exclusively uses them to channel spells through.

    Re the Discworld example, thought worth noting that the dwarf Casanunda, who basically consciously acts the opposite of the stereotypical dwarf is a dashing Lovable Rogue and fights with a Royal Rapier rather than an axe.
  • January 13, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ the last one is a subversion then?
  • January 13, 2016
    shimaspawn
    <Mod Hat>

    This trope is not just "Someone of X race happened to use this weapon. The trope is that characters of a race are stereotyped to use a certain type of weapon within the work. No one character is an example of this trope.
  • January 13, 2016
    Shirokurou
    The name keeps bugging me... I'd personally go for "Dwarf uses axe, Elf uses bow" as it really outlines the stereotype and races. I found myself also expanding this to classes, as well as races, but that maybe a separate trope.

    Also, real life in fiction examples? Ancient Greeks using spears as if they were all hoplites Everyone in Japan using a katana, even though, spears were the go-to footman weapon. And apparently some armies were measured in bows.
  • January 13, 2016
    Hodor2
    @DAN 004- Yeah, Cassanunda is a subversion.

    I'd say that Zz'dtri is Playing With A Trope. He still has the requisite racial weapon, but uses it in a completely different way (I'm not really versed in Dungeons And Dragons, but I think Dual Wielding is a class-feature of Rangers, which is what Drizzt is; but it makes no sense for Zz'dtri to have twin scimitars, since he's in a completely different character class).
  • January 13, 2016
    DAN004
    So... In Order Of The Stick, do Drows use scimitars too?

    @shimaspawn: If I get you right, example should be when it's a certain whole (or almost whole) race who generally use a particular weapon, right?
  • January 13, 2016
    shimaspawn
    ^ That would be correct, Dan. Hobbits for instance are stereotypes as peaceful farmers in The Lord Of The Rings so they wouldn't have any weapon stereotyped to them, despite Frodo having a short sword.
  • January 14, 2016
    alnair20aug93
    In War Craft, most of the Human soldiers use swords, while the Orc grunts use axes. Palladins and Shamans wield warhammers.
  • January 14, 2016
    DAN004
    ^^ I believe the fact that hobbits are peaceful and thus shouldn't have weapons assigned to them... I would agree, at least as far as LOTR goes. But how about other works where "hobbits/halflings" exist?
  • January 14, 2016
    shimaspawn
    ^ Universe by universe issue. Just because a race has a representation in a universe, doesn't mean they have a stereotypical weapon. In general, it's only Dwarves and Elves that have set stereotypes spanning more than one work. The Always Chaotic Evil using scimitars thing is only in works based off of D&D after the late ninties, so it's pretty narrow in scope. The clubs thing is just as likely to be axes, or hammers depending on the universe. Anything crude. The comic relief thing is just... no.
  • January 14, 2016
    silveraith
    Many water-based races tend to use harpoons and tridents.
  • January 14, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ Perhaps you'd like to mention one example of it.
  • January 14, 2016
    shimaspawn
    ^ Yeah, that's the thing, I think we should ditch the race assignments from the opening. It just seems to be getting us speculation rather than examples.
  • January 18, 2016
    alnair20aug93
    Star Craft in my broadest understanding:

    I have a War Craft example. For all I know, I only played WC 3... I don't know much about the other races...
  • January 18, 2016
    DAN004
    Generic examples removed as per shimaspawn's suggestion.

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