The Cutlass is a broad, curved bladed sword, commonly used by those going to sea. Originating from the Sarvonian North, the Glandorians and later the Avennorians, the often unsheathed worn Cutlass is still considered today to be one of the best weapons for use aboard a ship due to its shorter length, its thick heavy blade and relatively easy handling. Due to these reasons the Cutlass has also become a very typical pirate weapon.
The blade of the Cutlass is usually a
fore long and up to a half
a palmspan wide. Its
sweeping curve makes it very useful for shearing through rope and canvas
and generates a lot of power in the chopping and slashing attacks it has become
famous for. The thickness of the blade's spine can be up to three or four
nailsbreadths. This makes
the blade heavy and very durable. The curved blade comes down to meet the handle
which is covered in a variety of materials from leather to rare and expensive
Ancythrian shark skin. The handle
itself has a slight curve as well. This curve is down and away from the spine of
the blade. This curve adds extra force to the swing of the
weapon and also allows for a faster recovery from parries.
The handle is covered by a basket shaped guard giving hand protection without the need for heavy gauntlets. The basket guards come in a variety of shapes from a simple single piece of metal to guards consisting of several bars that have spiraling twisting patterns. Avennorian captains often would have a unique symbol engraved into this guard. This practice has been kept alive by many sea captains and pirates. It also offers a great method for individualizing a very common weapon.
The Cutlass is the prefered weapon of
sailors, which they inherited from their ancestors, the Glandorians. It is a
prefered weapon at sea because of its ability to be
used without a lot of training that some other blades require. The Cutlass is
most often used when either boarding another ship or repelling boarders from
one's own boat.
It is also used as a symbol of rank in the Avennorian society. Even land bound merchants will wear the cutlass as a symbol of honour and pride in the seafaring heritage of his or her ancestors.
When Avennorian captains receive their first command they are given a Cutlass with a unique basket hilt. The hilt is crafted from silver and carved to resemble an oyster shell. On the hilt is another engraving of a triangle within a circle, inside the triangle is an engraving of a waterstar flower. All these symbols are in honour of Baveras. The handle of this Cutlass is fashioned from whale ivory and sometimes carved into the likeness of Silffin, Baveras' sword whale.
Today many people who see a Cutlass think one thing first: pirates. This is because the weapon was adopted by so many people that make their trade on the oceans. Pirates favour the Cutlass over all other swords and many have made wicked and cruel modifications to their Cutlasses including serrations along the blade and vicious hooks at the tip for gutting an opponent. However even with these modifications the basic shape of the Cutlass and its signature basket hilt have remained unchanged to this day, a testament to the efficiency of the general design.
Fighting Style. Because of its broad curved blade the Cutlass is best used in a slashing and chopping method. Almost anyone can pick up a Cutlass and swing it which is a great advantage aboard ship should untrained people have to fight unwanted intruders. Rather than taking alot of time to train a crew in how to use a sword they can be shown basic chops and slashes and then move on to learning the more important aspects of sailing a ship.
The Cutlass does have a formal style. Similar to the saber, the style used by masters of the Cutlass is a fast moving sweeping series of attacks, parries, and counter attacks. Some of the unique moves involve punching an opponent's weapon to the side and then making a quick slash to a now undefended region of their body. Another common attack is to use the Cutlass with a dagger or something similar in the opposite hand. When an adversary attacks one makes an X shape with the blades to catch the enemy weapon. This is followed by a side step and a twisting motion to force the blade to the side or down or even up at which point the wielder of the Cutlass and dagger can make a stab and slash or deliver a punch.
One of the main advantages of the Cutlass over many other swords is its shorter length. The shorter blade can be swung more easily in the close confines aboard a ship. Another unique ability of the Cutlass is granted by the metal basket hilt. Because of the hilt someone wielding a Cutlass can block an opponents attack and deliver a vicious punch attack that can stun or knock out their foe. To this end many pirates have added spikes and blades to the hilt to make it a more devastating weapon in combat.
The reach of the blade is also its primary disadvantage. A person wielding a longer sword or a polearm has a decided reach advantage over the Cutlass. In addition to the short reach, the curve of the blade makes thrusting attacks difficult but not impossible.
Origin/History. According to myth, the Cutlass was invented by the Glandorians, the ancestors of today's Avennorians, and was originally a long knife made for cutting meat. During a battle between ships some of the crew lost their swords and found themselves having to fend off the enemy with their long knives. It was quickly realized that the shorter curved blade had the advantage in the narrow corridors below decks as well as in the rigging.
Seeing the advantages this weapon presented in combat the captain sought out a blacksmith after they made port and had the eating knifes increased in size. Over a few generations the blade grew and thickened into what we now know as the Cutlass. The basic shape of the Cutlass has remained mostly unchanged since it was brought from the North by the Glandorians.
Because of the ties between the Cutlass and pirates the term "Cutlass Wearer" has become a bit of an insult in many trade circles. It means someone who is greedy and "goes for the gold", a trait that the Avennorians share with pirates many think.