Melee Weapon
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Basic Information

This is a weapon designed to be used in hand to hand combat - as a rule of thumb, if the user is holding part of the same thing that hits his opponent, it's a melee weapon. If it launches something, or the user is meant to release it before it hits the target, it's a ranged weapon instead.

Melee weapons are traditionally divided into three kinds, based on the way that they deal damage:

although most weapons will have several 'modes' of damage (e.g. a sword may be able to both pierce and slash), classification is generally based on the default, or most commonly used mode.

The other mixed mode case would be melee weapons that can also be used at range (or vice versa) such as a throwing axe. Base the classification on what the weapon is normally used for or, failing that, on its basic type (e.g. the axe cited above is, first and foremost, an axe and therefore a melee weapon that can be thrown).

Some melee weapons may also be pieces of armour - spiked shields and gauntlets are the most obvious cases. These are still primarily armour, albiet with a secondary mode.

The melee weapon is almost certainly the original form of human weaponry, and has dominated combat for millenia. Although largely superseded by the existence of effective, accurate and fast repeating ranged weapons in the form of firearms, they remain a popular and important backup weapon for most users.

Sources

Bibliography
1. full source reference

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