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TheIT
06-16-2007, 12:23 AM
In my fantasy WIP, two of my characters are competing in a tournament. One is an archer, the other is a swordsman, and one of their people attempts to sabotage them such that they lose and another competitor is blamed. I'm looking for ideas for possible sabotage.

For the archer, I expect the competition will be a demonstration of marksmanship. How could his longbow or arrows be tampered with? Storywise, I need him to lose but not figure out it was sabotage until later.

For the swordsman, I'm planning for him to fight in individual combat but not to the death. What I'd like here is that he gets wounded but he manages to still win. Weaken some of the straps on his armor, perhaps?

Thanks in advance.

Plot Device
06-16-2007, 12:45 AM
FOR THE ARCHER:

As he is taking aim, far away someone with a small mirror reflects the sun into his eyes.

The feathery things on the arrows (I forgot what they are called--fletches??) get coated ahead of time with something sticky, so it messes up his ability to grip them.

The arrow heads (be they steel or flint or whatever) get replaced with charcoal heads, so they shatter on impact and don't penetrate the target, just bounce off.

Ziljon
06-16-2007, 12:54 AM
Maybe the arrow heads are dipped into or painted with a heavy paint so the balance is just a tad off. Later on, while sharpening or cleaning the arrow, maybe the paint can scratch or flake off.

I like Plot Device's idea about the mirror, but for the fight, not the archer. Or, what if the straps to his armor weren't weakend, but maybe soaked in some substance that would make them shrink while he fought, thus restricting his movements?

waylander
06-16-2007, 12:56 AM
Someone gets the archer's bowstrings damp

Swordsman got any allergies? Someone gets him close to whatever he is allergic to so that he is sneezing and eyes streaming in the contest

TheIT
06-16-2007, 01:05 AM
The mirror trick has definite possibilities since the specific person the saboteur wants to blame will never go near the competitors before the tournament.

Allergies could be fun, but it requires that his weakness is well known.

Thanks, keep 'em coming.

waylander
06-16-2007, 01:10 AM
Someone slips the swordsman a laxative an hour before the contest?

TheIT
06-16-2007, 01:14 AM
Let's keep this clean, shall we? :D

Robert L.B.
06-16-2007, 01:21 AM
They cast a weakening spell on both the archer's bow and the swordsman's blade? That would eventually cause the bow to snap after a few shots, and the sword to be broken after a couple blows. No one's any the wiser.

That's if you have magic in your story.

TheIT
06-16-2007, 01:34 AM
Yes, there's magic in this story. I've considered the possibility of magical sabotage. Problem is, the saboteur isn't a mage but the person he's trying to blame is. The saboteur might have a magical item, though, which could simulate the kind of magic the mage can do.

Once the sword fight ends with the swordsman getting wounded, they'll bring in a mage/referee to look for harmful magic. I've also got another potential scapegoat, too.

MattW
06-16-2007, 02:13 AM
You wanted these to go unnoticed at the time, but to be discovered later? That would be the only way I'd think the archer could lose...he'd notice sticky arrows, loose fletching, or a damp string. I don't see how he'd ever submit to using someone else's equipment.

For the swordsman, depending on the armor used, a helm visor that doesn't open/close properly to obscure vision, or any other joint that fits when first armoring, but doesn't move properly could limit his flexibility, but he could remove the offending piece or compensate. The visor seems good - there'd be no way to discover beforehand, and once it is down, he's stuck.

TheIT
06-17-2007, 09:33 PM
All right, for the archer I think I'm going to use a variation on the mirror trick. It's a good way for the saboteur to affect some of his shots but not all, and the archer might not think someone is targeting him until after the sword fight. Also, he might not get much sympathy. After all, can he expect perfect conditions in a battle? ;)

The swordsman is still giving me headaches. I like the visor idea or anything which could mess up his armor for a couple of reasons. The saboteur would like to see him injured or killed. Something which restricts his sight or mobility might be enough, or something which weakens the armor so a blow which should have been deflected instead causes damage.

zornhau
06-18-2007, 07:20 PM
...assuming he's wearing plate, there's lots of subtle ways of messing up his armour.

Arming jacket (the undergarment to which the armour is strapped):

The most obvious would be to sabotage the points... the waxed cords tying the armour to the jacket. Most armour is also buckled on, so losing a point doesn't just expose a target area, it also greatly hampers the wearer. For example, I once lost the point on my spaulder (a trilobite like shoulder and upper-arm protector). It fell free of my shoulder, but remained strapped to my upper arm armour, rattling about and pulling my cuts off balance.

Slightly more devious would be to cut the stitching on the voiders, that is the mail patches sewn to the arming jacket to cover gapes in the plate - typically throat, armpit and crook of elbow. They would gradually come undone during the fight, not only leaving dangerous gaps, but also hampering the wearer.

A really really devious saboteur might play with the fitting.

A little extra padding on the chest, and the breastplate hampers the sword swing (the edges dig into the upper arm as you cut), on the belly, and breathing becomes harder, on the arms, and the armour cuts off the circulation if you tighten the buckles to the usual hole in the strap.

Remove some padding from the shoulders, and the cuirass chafes like crazy, bruising the collar bone.

Yet more evil, change the position of the points. Now the armour, subtly, does not work.

Finally, re-sew the voiders so as to hamper movement, e.g. too tight between arm and chest.

The Armour

Messing this up is harder, because some problems would be obvious as soon as you put it on. However, this could mean having a choice between conceding a fight, or going in with 2nd best kit.

If the helmet has integral padding, try removing some of the stuffing. This will misalign the sights (eye holes), but also - for some kinds of helmets - cause the helm to grate against the shoulder defences, making it hard to turn your head properly. For a delayed action effect, replace some of the padding with something more crushable.

You can also go after the straps. The caveat is that a good squire should notice if a strap is worn our partially cut, and that in the process of putting on the armour, most straps undergo considerable strain - if they're going to snap or come loose, that would be the moment.

More subtle would be to partially saw through one of the sliding rivets in articulated defence. After a few rounds, the rivets would snap, leaving a gap in the plate and a hampering bit of metal flapping about.

Finally, most gauntlets are riveted to leather which is in turn stitched to an inner glove. Snipping the stitches could cause the gauntlet to come apart at a crucial moment.

The Sword
There are practical problems with getting hold of a knight's sword, but if you can, a few minutes in a forge can temper or detemper the blade, meaning that it will shatter or bend at odd moments.


* * *

In all of the above, remember that a knight's panoply was maintained like a Formula One car. A good squire should notice any obvious problems, and just arming up puts the various straps and rivets under strain and reveals any obvious problems.

TheIT
06-18-2007, 09:59 PM
Thanks, this gives me a lot to think about.

The saboteur is part of the swordsman's and archer's entourage so he has plenty of access to their equipment, however he's trying to set the blame on someone who would have limited access.

I like the idea of affecting the swordsman's gauntlets. If his gauntlets came undone during a swing or parry, he'd lose control of the sword, wouldn't he? What about putting oil or something slippery on the palms of the gloves?

I'm still setting up the rules for tournaments in this world, but I'm curious about historical tourneys. Did they have any rules regarding equipment failure?

zornhau
06-19-2007, 01:05 AM
Thanks, this gives me a lot to think about.

The saboteur is part of the swordsman's and archer's entourage so he has plenty of access to their equipment, however he's trying to set the blame on someone who would have limited access.

I like the idea of affecting the swordsman's gauntlets. If his gauntlets came undone during a swing or parry, he'd lose control of the sword, wouldn't he? What about putting oil or something slippery on the palms of the gloves?

I'm still setting up the rules for tournaments in this world, but I'm curious about historical tourneys. Did they have any rules regarding equipment failure?

That I don't know. I think not since one way of winning seems to have been slagging the other chap's harness.

Remember he'd notice the grease when he put the gauntlets on.

You'll find some other useful informed comments here: http://zornhau.livejournal.com/124886.html?view=616662