Monday, June 6, 2011

Pre-spanish weapons for a Filipino Fantasy Setting

If you've ever seen the Filipino "Weapons of Moroland" souvenir, you might wonder a bit about these weapons: what are they really like, how do they measure up to one another, and how were they used?

I don't really know aside from researching online, and of course the comments of some practitioners of Filipino Martial Arts who were clearly not alive during that time, but have heard stories passed down through years of martial arts masters and folklore.

Here are a few that have caught my eye.

Thank you, Wikipedia. You're awesome.
The Kampilan is a big sword, and could be considered the local equivalent of a broadsword (though I'm loathe to go to my AD&D stuff right now and research the dimensions). The construction doesn't look too friendly for thrusting; it seems like more of a cutting and chopping type of weapon. This is the weapon that we see Amaya (as portrayed by Marian Rivera) wielding in her teaser of a video. I think that quite a few of the Datus in the story have one too.

I should really donate to Wikipedia the next time they put out a call for money.

The Barong is a knife (not to be confused with the Barong Tagalog which is part of Filipino Formal Dress). I don't think it counts as a dagger, but it could be considered one in terms of damage. I mean, it's pretty broad as knives go. And the leaf-shape probably does some damage in terms of thrusting multiple times into someone, right? Plus, it's thick as blades go -- reputedly capable of cutting through the barrels of muskets and rifles with a good swing.

Last but not least for this post: the Panabas. Panabas is reputedly from the word pangtabas (thing used to chop). It's a forward-curved sword, but one that doesn't use quite so much metal and so in a fantasy economy might be more prevalent than the Kampilan. Since its effectiveness in chopping made it a favorite for use in executions, and it has a vaguely scythe-like look, it may be useful in suggesting that the bearers are of a more sinister bent than sword-bearing warriors.

I'll update this post at a future date just to add in the damage codes after the names of the weapons. Just a bit sleepy now.


  1. Interesting--and great pictures, too.

  2. I know! My guess is they're pics for historical purposes or for the weapon collectors. After all, there's a guy in Batangas whose forge made a lot of the weapons designed by WETA for the LOTR flicks...

    Anyway, I always wanted more pictures of weapons in D&D -- especially the polearms that I was unfamiliar with.

  3. Nice. Here's a link to a museum exhibit that toured Asia, there's a nice collection of Philippine weaponry here.

    And some notes from my Hari Ragat RPG (WIP):

    The kalis is a cut-and-thrust weapon, deadlier in thrusting than cutting, and due to its mystic significance is often the weapon of nobility and royalty. It's a finesse weapon.

    The kampilan is the longest of the available blades, sometimes being made for both one-handed and two-handed use like a bastard sword. It is often the weapon of battle champions, royal guards, and berserkers.

    The barong is a cut-and-thrust weapon, meant for use in a very close, in-your-face fighting style that maximizes its wide thrusting blade and heavyweight chopping power.

    The panabas is traditionally an executioner's weapon, and thus is held in dread over and above the respect for its sheer cutting power. I also gave it a bonus for breaking shields.

  4. @Dariel -- Hari Ragat is shaping up nicely! When will it be out for beta?

  5. Got a busy term, so writing's slowed down :). Probably around September-October. I'll keep you posted!

  6. Beautiful weapons/implements. :D
    --Why did it take so long to find this blog?

    BTW, I'd like you to contact me vie e-mail.
    --I need to have an address to ship the Urutsk products when they become available.



That's my side of things. Let me know what you think, my friend.

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