History’s Real-World Adventurers

Forget Drizzt and Mordenkainen. I discovered a really interesting article over at ENWorld on real-world epic heroes and villains:

As someone who enjoys history, I wanted to point out that there are rather quite a few remarkable real people from history who had adventures seldom matched in any Fantasy Novel, DnD game, or all the WoW games ever played, and they were a long way from Dilbert. In fact, many of the people on this list were IMO greater warriors than Conan, wiser than King Arthur, and more ruthless and intrepid than Elric.

A few examples:

  • Miyamoto Musashi, Japanese swordsman. Fought and won over sixty life-or-death duels, his first at age thirteen. Developed the two-sword fighting style and founded a fencing school.
  • Jeanne de Clisson, French pirate. After her husband was executed, she took revenge by selling her land to buy three warships, which she painted black with red sails and used to raid the king’s ships.
  • Egill Skallagrímsson, Icelandic Viking. Said to have fought as many as twenty men single-handedly and defeated a fierce berserker.

Further, the author writes on Historical European Martial Arts, a modern movement to reconstruct mediaeval fencing and combat techniques. It turns out that swordfighting techniques were actually pretty advanced, which is something you don’t see represented in Dungeons & Dragons. There are several videos, including grappling and full-contact sparring with swords.

The thread’s titled Mundane vs. Fantastical: give it a read.

Comments (1)

Sian (October 3rd, 2008)

Western martial arts are woefully underestimated. Unlike their eastern ilk, they fell utterly out of use and were forgotten. ARMA and other similar organizations have worked to reconstruct them from manuscript and other references, and found them quite advanced and formidable.

Also note that History’s Greatest Badasses could be easily represented by D&D stats of 10th level or less.

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