Misused (YKTTW name crowner): Heroes Prefer Swords

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1 TeraChimera26th Feb 2012 08:48:30 AM from somewhere out there
Cool Celtic Composition
As it stands right now, I can see two problems for this article.

First of all, why are we only listing the exceptions for this? A good portion of the examples are the trope played straight, and most of the exceptions are the hero using a lance, dagger, axe, or something similar. The description basically states that "RPG heroes will use swords even if more advanced weapons are available", but most RPGs are set in a medieval European fantasy setting, so swords are one of the most common weapons. There are some RPGs set in more advanced time periods, but very few people in them use swords. Is Mass Effect an exception because it's an RPG where the main character uses guns? It's set in the late 22nd century, so not using guns would probably be pretty stupid.

Second, and more importantly, why do we have non-video-game exceptions? Most of the examples in the non-video-game list are, again, the trope being played straight or the hero using a weapon such a lance, dagger, axe, etc. The few exceptions that fit the "more advanced weapons are available" bit are "the hero uses a gun", which is People Sit on Chairs.

I think the most important part of this trope is "more advanced weapons are available". A modern-day, recent-past, or futuristic setting makes the sword stand out more. The Jedi have no reason to use lightsabers except for this trope. The Arbiter has no reason to use an energy sword except for this trope. Jack Churchill had no reason to carry a broadsword into battle during World War II except for this trope. If it were up to me, we would only keep the examples where swords have become obsolete but the hero uses them anyway.
"The Uncertainty Principle isn't about uncertainty and it isn't a principle; other than that, it's perfectly named." — David Van Baak
That sounds like a much more valid rule for examples than we have now.

I'd suggest bringing a sword to the trope and start chopping. Would also need a fair amount of rewriting.

I'd also say it's less about more advanced weapons being available, and more about better weapons available. It usually means more advanced, though. Sort of using a sword to hunt with.

edited 26th Feb '12 9:58:58 AM by Feather7603

The Internet misuses, abuses, and overuses everything.
4 Madrugada26th Feb 2012 10:11:37 AM , Relationship Status: In season
swords have become obsolete but the hero uses them anyway.

Excellent job of cutting to the heart of the trope. Bravo!
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
5 muninn26th Feb 2012 11:10:52 AM from Somewhere, out there...
'M not Crazy, just Raven
Should the page also be re-written to be all-media, rather than trying to pretend that its Video Game only? There's nothing inherently videogame about "Character uses sword, even though weapons technology has progressed from them"
I'd say expand it, but soft split video game examples separate. There's a difference between "The PC literally can't equip anything but swords" and "The main character never uses anything but swords, even when it would make sense (such as when hunting)."
7 Madrugada26th Feb 2012 11:31:14 AM , Relationship Status: In season
That is a valid difference. I think soft splitting it that way makes sense.
...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
8 helterskelter26th Feb 2012 11:35:26 AM , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
I think another valid part of this trope is when the hero uses a sword (at least at default), but all other companions and party members use something else, like bows, lances, fists, and so on. The sword is usually considered the most heroic of martial weapons.

edited 26th Feb '12 11:36:53 AM by helterskelter

9 DragonQuestZ26th Feb 2012 11:46:46 AM from Somewhere in California
The Other Troper
Adding three comments here:
  1. I thought it was an aggregate trope, where using swords is the most common main player character weapon. If that's not the definition, it should be split off.
  2. For the current definition, it should be renamed to make it clear that it's using swords to the exclusion of other weapons.
  3. Someone here thought it was a main PC being not allowed to equip anything else. That could be a trope about any player character being locked into a weapon type, and if we don't have that trope, we should.
I'm on the internet. My arguments are invalid.
So, we are basically talking about three different tropes in one? surprised
11 TeraChimera26th Feb 2012 12:17:55 PM from somewhere out there
Cool Celtic Composition
[up][up] The definition and examples, when taken together, are a bit confusing. The description says that RPG heroes will always use swords, even when better weapons are available, but most RPGs have a medieval-esque setting, making using swords rather obvious. Listing only the exceptions gets more confusing, as we get stuff like:

Typically inverted in the Megaman series, as the various incarnations of Mega primarily uses guns and blasters while the expies of The Lancer Protoman primarily uses swords.

What it's basically saying is, "Mega Man exists in a setting where guns exist, and he doesn't use swords." The bit about Protoman is more relevant to the trope. For some reason, this is also listed as a video game trope, and the non-video-game examples are listed separately, when the Jedi are an excellent example.

Listing only the exceptions is rather weird, as they tend to be either, "character in a medieval setting doesn't use a sword" (what's so noteworthy about that?) or "character in a setting where guns exist uses a gun" (well, duh, guns are much more efficient than swords).

As mentioned above, we're thinking of shifting focus to the "better weapons exist" part of the trope, as more advanced technology makes the sword stand out more. If we do, another name would be preferred. Modern Swordfighter?
"The Uncertainty Principle isn't about uncertainty and it isn't a principle; other than that, it's perfectly named." — David Van Baak
I think this trope is also about how the main lead will ALWAYS wield a sword, rather than an axe, bow or spear, for no reason other than Rule of Cool and a perception that swords are heroic
Yeah, the way I've seen this trope used around the wiki is "the main character will use a sword rather than other setting-appropriate weapons like axes, spears, knives, etc" not "the main character will use a sword rather than modern weapons like guns". I'm not sure whether it makes more sense to list examples or aversions, though.

Anachronistic Weapon Usage (eg, using a sword when guns are available) is probably a trope, but not this trope.
14 Deboss26th Feb 2012 10:05:54 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
I'd also call it a higher level trope than this trope. I also see it as the stock weapon that The Hero uses as opposed to the bow, the staff, the axe/hammer, a different type of sword. Preferring a melee weapon over long range weapons sounds like a trope, but not necessarily this one.

edited 26th Feb '12 10:06:36 PM by Deboss

I agree with the guys above me. I think some people are misinterpreting the trope. The description says:

"In an RPG, the main character always uses a sword, or at least has the option of using a sword. Even if the character has no training. Even if there are more efficient/advanced weapons."

And that last sentence is being treated like the entire trope, but it's really just one aspect of it.

The essence of the trope is just that swords are by far the most common weapon choice The Hero, to the point where he'll have one even in situations where it doesn't make any sense.
Right, but we're saying that "The Hero uses a sword instead of a spear or an axe" and "The Hero uses a sword instead of a rifle or a pistol" are two separate tropes.
Cure Candy
[up][up] Yeah that is the key thing RPG Heroes use swords and that is it.

Every Final Fantasy lead uses a sword (only one switches it up and uses two of them) Star Ocean, Dragon Quest, the Mist Walker games.

The only one that switches it up for Dragon Quest is Dragon Quest V which has his character art using a staff but in game he uses swords in game... but he is not the hero of that game his son is.

Correlation the Main supporting girl will be a White Magician Girl and use staffs and/or bows (or an unusual ranged weapon.

A Separate trope for Using Swords In A Futuristic Setting is needed it is related but not restricted to RP Gs or any other medium. (Guns get Arbitrary Gun Power to match swords and yada.)

edited 26th Feb '12 10:36:56 PM by Raso

18 TeraChimera26th Feb 2012 10:36:12 PM from somewhere out there
Cool Celtic Composition
If swords were by far the most common weapon for RPG heroes, I don't think the list for exceptions would be so massive. Is the tendency of RPG heroes to use swords even noteworthy enough to be considered a trope? There's a tendency of RPGs to be set in medieval-style times, where, as mentioned on the trope page, swords were among the most common weapons. There's a correlation between the two.
"The Uncertainty Principle isn't about uncertainty and it isn't a principle; other than that, it's perfectly named." — David Van Baak
[up][up][up] Like you said, Anachronistic Weapon Usage is a trope, but not this one.

Actually The John Henry (which is in TRS right now) partly covers Anachronistic Weapon Usage, but it's supposed to be exclusively a character trope. This is getting kind-of complicated.

edited 26th Feb '12 10:38:31 PM by abk0100

Cure Candy
[up][up]A lot of the examples on the page are for battle systems which let anyone equip any weapon.... (many times the hero in those start out with a sword) which probably should be removed.

edited 26th Feb '12 10:41:07 PM by Raso

21 helterskelter26th Feb 2012 10:50:54 PM , Relationship Status: Drift compatible
Actually, I feel like "Heroes use swords instead of other period-appropriate weapons" and "heroes use swords when more advanced weapons are available" are really the same trope: both exist because the sword is considered either The Mario of weapons and/or it's almost always considered the most "heroic" of weapons so he always uses it, even when it doesn't make sense. I think they're both a part of the same trope, applied to an extreme.
[up][up][up][up]There's a reason for the trope, but it's still a trope. A common way it shows up is for there to be a party made up of axe-wielding dwarf, a bow-wielding elf, a knife-wielding thief, and so on, but the hero will tend to have a basic long-sword.

Another way it shows up is that even if you get to choose your race and class and weapon proficiencies, the game designers will usually make the Infinity +1 Sword be an actually sword, and they'll make the swords be the most easy-to-find weapon, as if they're expecting you to pick it as your weapon just based on this trope.

Those are video game examples, but it's just as common outside of video games. I remember on Stargate, they had just replaced the protagonist, and they wanted the audience to think of the new one as a hero, so they introduced contrived scenarios where he alone would end up having to fight with a sword instead of the usual guns.

edited 26th Feb '12 10:53:18 PM by abk0100

Cure Candy
[up][up] I think it is more anyone who uses a sword or bow yada when futuristic seemingly better weapons are available like Railguns and Ray Guns.

When you look at games like Star Ocean: The Last Hope [1] everyone in your party is using anachronistic weapons like swords, bows, claws and staves even the aliens. (they handwave the reason why the MC uses it but that does not explain anyone else in the party.)

Hell the Star Wars expanded universe adds "Vibro Blades" just as an excuse to add swords when lightsabers are exclusive to jedi.

Heroes Prefer Swords is just related to that not exclusive to it.

edited 26th Feb '12 10:59:44 PM by Raso

24 TeraChimera26th Feb 2012 11:01:43 PM from somewhere out there
Cool Celtic Composition
[up][up] If it's about using a sword to show the hero, then it's not "the hero prefers to use a sword"; it's part of Weapon of Choice. Granted, this can be a subtrope of that, but it's still subtly different than what the trope is now. There's a difference between "the hero uses a sword" and "you know he's the hero because he uses a sword".
"The Uncertainty Principle isn't about uncertainty and it isn't a principle; other than that, it's perfectly named." — David Van Baak
25 Deboss26th Feb 2012 11:10:21 PM from Awesomeville Texas
I see the Awesomeness.
@ Helter Skelter: while I think there's a similar effect, I believe the cause is different. Namely, group dynamics. Preferring swords as an individual because you believe it offers better advantages over more modern weapons is different than believing it is more heroic or honorable. Essentially, a form of person Rock Beats Laser or Swords Vs Guns.

I suspect that The Hero (as a member of the band) preferring swords is related to The Hero generally being the leader of the band, as spears were the commoner weapon. I think, I'm not a historian.

Alternative Titles: Deprecated Weapon YKTTW
21st Jun '12 9:21:06 AM
Vote up names you like, vote down names you don't. Whether or not the title will actually be changed is determined with a different kind of crowner (the Single Proposition crowner). This one just collects and ranks alternative titles.
At issue:

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