Silver weaponry- effectiveness and drawbacks:

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I'm working on creating a setting in which the main enemies are deathly allergic to silver. As such, most of the protagonists weapons will be silver.

My main questions are about how well silver holds up as a weapon both as a melee weapon such as a sword or in bullet form.

Is it too fragile to be effectively used as a bullet? How often would a silver sword need to be repaired or sharpened? Pretty much any complications or considerations you can provide about using sliver weaponry would help. Thanks in advance.
2 LoniJay30th Mar 2012 07:53:35 PM from Australia , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Does it have to be solid silver, or can they be silver-plated?
Be not afraid...
3 MajorTom30th Mar 2012 08:12:57 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
Silver Bullets exist in reality. They are mainly just obscenely expensive compared to brass, steel or lead bullets.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
OK so silver bullets are feasible then, if high cost. What about silver swords then? I'm not very familiar with he durability of silver.

As for the question of whether it can be silver platted, I'm not sure. I'm still debating whether or not it has to be "pure" silver.
Raven Wilder
Silver plating can still be pure silver, it's just there's only a thin layer of it on top of a different metal. In that scenario, the real question is how much silver is necessary to produce a violent reaction.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
What about silver swords then? I'm not very familiar with he durability of silver.
At only about 2.5 on the mohs scale (compared to copper, which is 3), you're not going to get anywhere edging your swords in the stuff, although if the stuff is poisonous to the enemies, plating it on the sides of the sword might help.

edited 30th Mar '12 9:18:12 PM by MattII

I think silver is comparable, but still softer, than bronze. It would be possible to make swords out of it, but if there's a shortage of the metal, it would not be likely, as swords require relatively high amounts of silver compared to other weapons.

You'd probably be looking at silver tipped or bladed polearms. Or maybe maces with silver spikes or flanges.

If you do use swords, they'd likely need to be sharpen quite a lot. The softness makes it fairly mallable compared to iron, which makes repairs easier (depending on damage, naturally), but striking any kind of armour would blunt them immediately.

edited 30th Mar '12 9:29:00 PM by Feather7603

The Internet misuses, abuses, and overuses everything.
Ok, so the implementation of this is slowly coming together in my head. I think I will go with the silver plated/ silver tipped weaponry idea as it seems to be the most feasible and have the least amount of drawbacks.

Thanks a lot, guys.
I think silver is comparable, but still softer, than bronze.
Softer than bronze? The stuff is softer (and heavier) than copper. Copper is also much more common about 50 ppm in earth's crust, compared to about 70 ppb for silver. Likewise, iron is harder, lighter and much more common than copper.

edited 30th Mar '12 10:43:37 PM by MattII

Raven Wilder
It sounds like I Confuse Me is talking about creating a Constructed World, so how common silver is on Earth wouldn't really be an issue there.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
Regardless, silver is a piss-poor material to make a sword out of, copper is better for weight and hardness. Also, silver can't be that common or the bad guys wouldn't be allergic to it en masse, you're only allergic to things that aren't a common part of your diet/environment.
Well it's not like PURE silver would just be lying around. You still have to mine the ore and refine it, so being allergic to it is fine, since it's only a problem that would show up after metallurgy has advanced. So that can still work.

Besides, he doesn't have to make it super duper common, just common enough that it can be mass produced, like say, 10x less common than copper.

Plating or tipping weapon in silver is good, though it's probably still costly since, as pointed out, it's soft and will tend to just chip off constantly.
So don't use silver on the edge, just on the sides (or basically everywhere that isn't an edge), that way you can maintain a decent edge, but still put a lot of silver into a wound.

edited 30th Mar '12 11:51:02 PM by MattII

14 LoniJay30th Mar 2012 11:57:50 PM from Australia , Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
It seems like projectile weapons might be a more effective way of delivering silver into a wound - if they lodge inside a person, that's much better contact than stabbing them with a sliver-plated knife or sword.

Of course, that'd be more expensive because you mightn't get your silver back.
Be not afraid...
Raven Wilder
What about serrated blades, where the points of each of the teeth are iron or steel, but the inside edges of the teeth are silver?
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
16 TuefelHundenIV31st Mar 2012 06:19:23 AM from Wandering. , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
One thing to remember about silver is that is a rather soft metal. Not exactly ideal for combat weapons. But say a weapon with silver plating or silver filagree on the blade or striking surfaces might work.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
So how much silver do we need to cause toxic death at a rate that is useful in combat? Can we just engrave some silver onto a blade?
18 TuefelHundenIV31st Mar 2012 11:20:46 AM from Wandering. , Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Watchmen of the Apocalypse
I think that might be dependant on the individuals general biology. How much exposure=fatal reaction.
"Who watches the watchmen?"
19 lordGacek31st Mar 2012 11:26:35 AM from Kansas of Europe
KVLFON
That in general, though I'd have worded it so it wouldn't sound so scientific. Silver hurts it, magic.
"Atheism is the religion whose followers are easiest to troll"
I'm indifferent!
They're deathly allergic to silver, you say?

Well, I'm deathly allergic to extremely powerful acid. Doesn't mean you have to make a sword out of the stuff to kill me.

Unless your enemies are immune to conventional weaponry, it seems to me that Silver is just another, perhaps more efficient way of killing them. Most people die from grave enough sword wounds, and if you're going for light sword wounds, then there are better weapons you can use. It depends on how dangerous silver is to them I'll admit, but if it needs to enter a wound or be ingested then you should probably focus less on coating a sword with the stuff and more on poisoning them the old fashioned way. Sure, you can cover a sword with silver such that a small wound will kill them, but frankly that shouldn't be the main focus. Projectiles would work better than melee weapons, for somewhat obvious reasons—arrows and bullets are a lot harder to protect against, cut wise, than swords. Unless the enemy isn't wearing any armor and don't have projectiles themselves, in which case you could probably send a classroom of high school students with armor and no military training after them and slaughter them all without too much trouble.

If skin contact is enough, then you're better off focusing on alternative methods of attack. Sabotage of some sort. Remember how they used to harm enemies with hot sand back when they had castles? Picture that, only worse.
You know what I hate? Hypocrites. That and obscure self-referential statements.
21 lordGacek31st Mar 2012 12:30:01 PM from Kansas of Europe
KVLFON
Depends also who the antagonists are. Evil men who can be dealt with quicker by proper weaponry? Lightning-fast towers of muscle that make it necessary to exploit specific weaknesses of them to even the odds? Magical entities that can't be hurt by normal means? A group of monsters that has to be hunted down by well-equipped cadre of professionals, or a huge army?
"Atheism is the religion whose followers are easiest to troll"
22 Belisaurius31st Mar 2012 05:54:30 PM from Big Blue Nowhere , Relationship Status: Having tea with Cthulhu
Artisan of Auspicious Artifacts
Silver powder may be more effective than silver coated weapons. It would be expensive but a sword with silver powder on it would be devastating as the silver would find it's way into the wound. Once there, the powder would be neigh-impossible to get out without some sort of solvent or just plain excavating all the affected tissue out.
Raven Wilder
Or maybe people in your setting develop a fighting style that involves a sword in each hand, one made of iron/steel and one made of silver: the former's used for hacking a wound in armor/flesh, then you're supposed to drive the silver blade into the opened wound.
"It takes an idiot to do cool things, that's why it's cool" - Haruhara Haruko
24 MajorTom31st Mar 2012 07:22:18 PM , Relationship Status: Barbecuing
Eye'm the cutest!
Or maybe it can work on the same principle as Holy Water/Blessed Items aka It Burns!! The silver itself would be (violently if need be) reactive to evil beings rather than traditional poisoning.

That would lend credence to silvered weapons even if the actual edge of a silvered knife or sword isn't silver. The silver merely needs contact the enemy in question.
"Allah may guide their bullets, but Jesus helps those who aim down the sights."
Well most enemies who die to silver are because they have really good regeneration against all other wound types unless inflicted by silver.

Total posts: 47
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