Worldbuilding: How the Arms Make the Character

I write action-filled books, so obviously, my characters are going to be armed.  This is something I put a lot of thought into when first designing the characters and the world.

First off, in Maradaine, I didn’t want guns.  They just didn’t fit into the mold of the world I wanted Maradaine to be.*  Plus, I don’t really know about guns, and when you get that stuff wrong, those who do let you know.  Sometimes quite loudly.  So I avoid that conversation completely.

But which weapons do I give my characters?

For Veranix in Thorn of Dentonhill, I really wanted his weapons to mean something to him.  His bow is to honor his father– former soldier and leader in the Aventil streets, and then later a trick shot performer in the circus.  His staff is to honor his mother, who a circus acrobat, aerialist and tightrope walker.  Of course, they are also the tools he is skilled with, but that’s because those skills were passed on by his parents.

For Minox and Satrine in A Murder of Mages, what I chose for them had to apply to the constabulary force as a whole.  They carry crossbows (usually loaded with blunt-tip quarrels, for an option that is not-necessarily-as-lethal as a pointed ones) and handsticks, The handsticks are, of course, why the constabulary are called “sticks” on the streets.

A lot of the Aventil street gang folk, like Colin, have knives, knucklestuffers (think brass knuckles or this beauty my friend Kat used to carry in college) and cudgels.  Now, I also had to consider what this meant on a cultural level.  Why are people on the streets carrying  this stuff, and what does it mean, legally?  Maradaine is a civilized city, after all, with an established constable force, legal code and court system.

But Maradaine also has a dark past, where corrupt lords had no checks to arrest anyone they pleased for whatever reason– or no reason– as the mood struck them.  So when the founders of the Parliament and other aspects of Druthal’s modern government were drafting their Rights of Man, the need to protect oneself from false or unjust arrest was prevalent in their minds.  Thus enshrined in the Rights of Man is the right to be armed, explicitly to protect oneself from unjust arrest.  At one point in Thorn, Colin even mentions it when confronted by a stick.

These character-based weapon concerns, as well as how old traditions can clash with a “modern” world, come into play in several aspects in Way of the Shield,  a book that I hope to have some news for you about in the near future.

Also, I decidedly made some unique weapon choices for some of the more flamboyant characters showing up in The Alchemy of Chaos, coming out early next year.  Hope you’re looking forward to that as much as I am.  Until then, I have a very full plate of edits, proofs and drafting for the rest of the month (and year).  So I better get to it.

*- Not that fantasy can’t have guns.  There is, of course, the rising subgenre of Flintlock Fantasy.