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Basic Information

Sometimes known as the "Aztec sword", the macuahuitl1 was a flat wooden club, roughly sword-shaped with blades of obsidian set into the edges to improve its cutting power. It was a common weapon amongst the forces fighting the Spanish invasion of South America (and, indeed, amongst their allies) and was attested as being capable of cutting a horse's neck so that the head 'hung by the skin' and inflicting severe wounds on the rider.
Whilst reasonably effective against unarmoured targets the weapon loses out to a steel sword on almost all counts, requiring more time and space to swing, lacking a stabbing point and suffering from a lack of density and a fragile blade. It appears that they faired very badly indeed against the steel armour of the conquistadors.

Historical sources note a typical macuahuitl as being 3-4' long … and a two handed version 'as tall as a man'. For reference, the same weapon without the obsidian blades is best known as a macana.
The Aztecs also seem to have deployed a spear like weapon with a head bladed like that of a macuahuitl known as a tepoztopilli - despite the resemblance to a spear, the slashing head would seem to indicate some kind of polearm.

These weapons seem to have expired completely, with the last known authentic models being lost in a fire in 1884 although a variety of replicas are in existance.

The Leiomano and similar Pacific Islander weapons bladed with shark's teeth are a very close equivalent as a weapon.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • An obvious choice of weapon for non-metal using societies (or characters) in your campaign.
    • Or even just those where it's too hot for armor.
    • Horror characters without access to proper weapons might be able to improvise with bit of wood, broken glass and superglue (say, a cricket bat and expedient window glass fragments).
  • Good if knocking off the Aztecs as a fantasy counterpart culture.
  • A futuristic variation might be the chainsaw-sword, possibly with synthetic diamond replacing the obsidian.
  • Potentially the design could be used with green-rocks in place of obsidian (or whatever kind of non-metallic phlebotinum is to hand) to bypass specific resistances, and the same could be done copying the shark-tooth designs with the sharp edged fangs of an appropriate creature.
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