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Cleaning & Reorganizing Weaponry Tropes:

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SeptimusHeap Token Good Teammate from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Oct 21st 2014 at 8:01:15 AM

The problem is that these tropes tend to attract "character uses an X" or "character + X" examples. They just do. Nothing to do with names.

Now I'll accept that chainsaws are such hugely impractical weapons that their use does probably constitute a trope by default, but that's the exception, not the rule.

NativeJovian from Orlando, FL
Oct 21st 2014 at 8:06:05 AM

[up]That's true to some extent, but changing names might help, at least. Some of the Weapon of Choice tropes are better about this than others. For example, An Axe to Grind doesn't suggest anything besides "axes", but things like Royal Rapier or Sinister Scythe have some of the characterization built into the name, which should definitely help curb misuse.

Vos iustus a diversis genus delirus.
shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 21st 2014 at 8:08:35 AM

The way these tropes are written is so broad that the distinctions you're making aren't there in the definitions, they aren't there in the examples, they aren't there in the wicks. I understand the points you're making, but they aren't reflected by anything in reality. The reality is that these overly broad tropes and overly broad definitions lend themselves to the kind of shoehorning I'm talking about.

By lumping every reason anyone would wield an axe into one trope, you're effectively making the trope a dumping ground for anyone who uses an axe ever because people will argue that the fact that their favourite character has one is reason enough to include them.

Let's find the actual tropes and make real, solid characterization tropes, instead of just pointing out people with axes.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
NativeJovian from Orlando, FL
Oct 21st 2014 at 8:26:10 AM

[up]That's what we're suggesting, to make sure that the trope isn't "people using axes", it's "specific characterization derived from people using axes". I thought you were arguing against that.

Vos iustus a diversis genus delirus.
shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 21st 2014 at 9:17:01 AM

My issue is that I think we need more than vague references to "specific characterisation" and to instead split the tropes by those characterisations. There are at least a dozen different motivations currently listed on An Axe to Grind about half of which aren't specific to axes. I want distinct tropes. Not the general idea that wielding an axe is enough to be a trope.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
NativeJovian from Orlando, FL
Oct 21st 2014 at 9:26:19 AM

If there's enough varied characterizations for the specific weapon, then sure, we should make some subtropes, but I think there should be a supertrope as well. We don't need "Barbarian Tribe axemen" and "Horny Vikings axemen" and "The Berserker axeman" all as separate tropes, but something like "psychopathic axe-wielder" and "medieval executioner axe-user" could be reasonably split off.

Vos iustus a diversis genus delirus.
SeptimusHeap Token Good Teammate from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Oct 21st 2014 at 9:29:20 AM

Well, a supertrope still needs to be a trope. Otherwise it's not pageworthy.

NativeJovian from Orlando, FL
Oct 21st 2014 at 9:40:29 AM

Right, the supertrope would be "axe-user preferring brute force over finesse", which seems tropeworthy enough to me.

Vos iustus a diversis genus delirus.
Oct 21st 2014 at 10:07:56 AM

No, the system is:

  • Supertrope: Character uses a distinctive weapon in a distinctive way
    • Subtrope: The use of the weapon indicates a certain personality trait
    • Subtrope: Dual Wielding this weapon indicates another personality trait
    • Subtrope: The use of the weapon is a Plot Parallel in a specific way
    • Subtrope: The use of the weapon makes them The Rival to another character in some way
    • Subtrope: The use of this weapon is supposed to be ironic (ie a tiny girl swinging around a giant barbed club)

That's why I said on the first page that we shouldn't treat Weapon of Choice as the Supertrope, because characters may be forced to use the "visual and audio aspect" of the weapon while it may not be their preferred weapon. Treating a character trope you assigned to the weapon as the supertrope is restrictive to a greater idea because not every character who uses the weapon will fit that mold. It creates a missing supertrope, one which we already have.

But Hammers, Axes and Chainsaws are certainly very distinctive and probably the easiest to clean up. Looking over the list Handgun just doesn't seem to work (even with a halfway decent description about how heroes use handguns in contrast to others with snipers, rifles, etc), because typically when they show up everyone has some variant of a handgun. Hand Cannon is, of course, more specific and more stable.

Oct 21st 2014 at 10:44:59 AM

Yeah handgun and sword are both so general that hammering them out is going to be a mess. Most of the other weapons should not be so hard.

shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 21st 2014 at 11:27:56 AM

Your axe trope examples show how terrible the idea of classifying weapon tropes by type of weapon really is. In your example the axe could be replaced with a club, a crude broadsword, a maul, a hammer, a tree, or any other large heavy weapon. There is nothing about an axe that means it's the only thing that can be slotted in that hole.

The better trope there is large heavy weapon indicates a strength over finess fighting style.

Now,there are four groups I can think of that do traditional just use axes and are actually axe specific tropes:

  • Dwarves
  • Lumberjacks/foresters
  • Literal axe murderers
  • Executioners

And all of them are associated with axes for different reasons.

edited 21st Oct '14 11:30:36 AM by shimaspawn

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
ObsidianFire Relationship Status: Not caught up in your love affair
Oct 21st 2014 at 11:45:07 AM

Axe vs. Club vs. Crude Broadsword vs. Maul vs. Hammer vs. Tree

Visually speaking, axes have the most sophistication out of all of the above weapon types. They also need constant up-keep to keep their edge. So they need to have the most work put into them. I tend to associate axes with more "refined" barbarian type characters as they have enough "technology" in order to make a weapon that doesn't double as anything else. (IRL anyway, war axes and lumber axes look very, very different). Dwarves are a good candidate because of this. Depending on the type of axe it also only works in one direction so you're fighting style can't be a sloppy for it to work right.

Clubs are the crudest weapon out of all of them. They're usually nothing more then a thick stick that's used to hit people. No special tools have to go into making them and they don't need upkeep at all. There isn't any special technique for fighting with them either. I tend to see these only with the most uncivilized characters.

A crude broadsword gives more sophistication then the axe as it's a knightly weapon. But the fact that it's crude means the person using it usually don't have that much money or is really sloppy in how they upkeep their weapon. It could also mean that whoever is making them isn't doing well economically which has ramifications for the setting people find themselves in.

Mauls and Hammers are a less sophisticated version of the axe, but they can still can have wealth and power associated with them while the club can't. This is especially true if the Maul/Hammer is made out of expensive materials. They're associated with someone who has a more brutish fighting style then the axe wielder as they don't need as much upkeep and their fighting style can be sloppier and less refined. They aren't usually viewed as a "cheap" weapon though.

The Tree when used as a weapon is usually only used by monstrous characters and is usually a desperation weapon. This is type of weapon that's only used when the "real" weapon is lost/missing. Otherwise, this is an unusual weapon choice at best or is most likely Played for Laughs.

I think we could come up with some tropes just based on the above.

edited 21st Oct '14 11:45:34 AM by ObsidianFire

shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 21st 2014 at 12:03:17 PM

All those weapons are Stone Age weapons. They can be as simple as a rock tied to a stick or as elaborate as you can imagine. There is nothing inherently high class about any of them

Now, craftsmanship = wealth/level of advancement is a trope, but it's not a weapon trope.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Oct 21st 2014 at 5:45:24 PM

I agree that Weapon of Choice isn't for someone who took up something closest to him to clobber someone else with, and without the weapon being an integral part of the character.

And I believe one particular weapon trope page's issue is different from the other, so maybe we should split this discussion?

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AnotherDuck No, the other one. from Stockholm Relationship Status: In season
No, the other one.
Oct 21st 2014 at 8:49:21 PM

I think we need to go through this one trope at a time. With the discussion all over the place like this it's not going to go anywhere.

I can see a trope where an axe is included in a Big Guy Weapon trope. Discounting how axes were used in real warfare, in fiction axes are huge and heavy, and only used by the strongest people. Vikings tend to be pictured as among the strongest. Berserkers are Viking-inspired anyway. Barbarians, as they appear in fiction nowdays, also fit the same type. Brawn over brain. But other big weapons would also qualify for the same trope, so it wouldn't be specifically an axe trope.

For dwarves, axes are just one of several attributes people like to lump them with, along with alcohol, a Scottish-ish accent, beard, and alcohol. Although an axe would categorise them as a warrior dwarf, rather than any other dwarf, so there's that.

Just using an axe you found lying around is probably more of an Emergency Weapon or something like that (though probably won't fit that trope specifically).

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Oct 21st 2014 at 9:48:21 PM

Lets see filing down the axe examples list for patterns.

In general axes tend to be more of a practical weapon especially for Mooks such as Orcs in Warcraft or Zakus in Gundam, sure they could use swords but Axes just have more utility and Swords Are Heroic and Axes Are Evil.

Axes are typically only assigned certain classes in games such as Warriors, because they usually can equip anything strong or brutish. Then Shamans, Geomancers, Hunters and Beastmasters because an Axe is an earthy or naturey weapon.

Axes is they make good throwing weapons, known as a Tomahawk, many times concealed and tends to be both melee and thrown in works, Dwarves such as Ghimli and Giant Mecha use them. Also a Native American stereotype, Shania from Shadow Hearts, some see it as offensive.

In general Mecha has a huge fetish for Axes especially following the aforementioned Zaku in Mobile Suit Gundam with their Heat Hawk, which became iconic to the point that they forgo continuing development on Laser Blade for Laser Axe and some series have had them replace Laser Blade in captured mobile suits with Laser Axe because it is not their Iconic Weapon, reappearances in other series continue the trend by giving them Tomahawks and Battle-Axes. Many other series reference this such as the Char Clone in Nanoha uses a Bardiche for a Magical Girl 'staff'.

Cute Bruiser with implausibly huge axe and/or mace is also a trope, related to Small Girl, Big Gun, They can be normal sized but implausible for their body type to over kill, They do not touch swords really, always axes, maces and rarely scythes.

edited 21st Oct '14 10:36:45 PM by Memers

Oct 22nd 2014 at 8:59:30 AM

I definitely think An Ax To Grind is a good place to start.

NativeJovian from Orlando, FL
Oct 22nd 2014 at 9:32:06 AM

So if we're going to go through the whole Weapon of Choice index page by page, do we want to do that here in TRS, or move it over to Long Term Projects?

Vos iustus a diversis genus delirus.
SeptimusHeap Token Good Teammate from Bern, Switzerland Relationship Status: Mu
Oct 22nd 2014 at 10:35:33 AM

There is already a thread in Long Term Projects here, for what it's worth.

shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 22nd 2014 at 12:05:23 PM

We are making way more progress in here than they did in the other thread, so let's stay here for now.

I do agree that An Axe to Grind should be our first focus because it's a much bigger mess than most of them.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
DAN004 Chair Man from The 0th Dimension
Chair Man
Oct 22nd 2014 at 4:49:14 PM

Also add that firefighters also use axes.

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shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 22nd 2014 at 5:29:26 PM

The point isn't to lump more stuff in one mess. The point is to split things off into the actual tropes.

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick
Oct 22nd 2014 at 6:13:52 PM

Well from my post before I can see 4 maybe 5 tropes.

Axes Of Evil: polar opposite of Swords Are Heroic bad guys and mooks tend to use em as counterparts to the heroes and they tend to look far more intimidating than a sword.

Naturey Axes: axes tend to be the default weapon for those connected to nature and earth, hunters, firemen, geomancers, lumberjacks, Shamans, Native Americans.

Brutes Axe: axes tend to be default for The Big Guy as well as brutish warriors.

Small Girl Big Axe, fantasy version of Small Girl, Big Gun

shimaspawn from Here and Now Relationship Status: In your bunk
Oct 22nd 2014 at 6:54:52 PM

I think that last trope should be Small Girl Big Weapon since I tend to see more bludgeoning weapons in that roll. Hammers and mauls and clubs are more common than axes. It's not really an axe trope. It's a general weapon trope and works better more inclusive.

As for firemen, they aren't natural enough to count for the nature trope. They tend to be very urban and cut off from nature. That and I don't think that firemen having axes is a stock fireman depiction, especially since they rarely use them as weapons.

I think they fall more into a category of people using tools of their trade as weapons. That should be a supertrope. Mechanics use wrenches, firefighters use axes, an architect might hit people with a giant ruler, pirates wield anchors...

edited 22nd Oct '14 6:57:46 PM by shimaspawn

Reality is that, which when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away. -Philip K. Dick

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