Dagger and short sword

At Dope-A-Ween, I was wearing a longish knife as part of my costume. We got into a discussion of whether it counted as a dagger or a short sword.

For weapons with a two-edged blade and a pointy tip, what is the definition of “dagger” and “short sword”? And is there a kind of weapon between the two?

I’ll measure my weapon tonight and post details tomorrow.

Sheesh, haven’t you played enough D&D?

A daggar is a one handed piercing weapon. A short sword is a one handed slashing weapon. I’m not sure of the range of damage they do, but I’m sure that someone will come along shortly with the official stats.

Dagger 1D4 + speed bonus (beginers can get 1-3 attackes per melee) only blade allowed by magic-user class
Short Sword 1D6, not usable by magic-user class


What’s the weight and size?

That’s the crux of this biscuit.

According to D&D, dagger is small, maybe 8-12 inches long, half blade half grip, and usually has a weight of 0.5-1(lbs). Short Swords weigh between 4-6(lbs)range in size from 18-24", and have a hilt just large enough to hold in one hand. A bladed implement between the two in size and weight is called a Dirk.

Daggers and Dirks are piercers, and Shortswords are slashers. Deciding what type of weapon you have is more based on how you expect to use it than how it would be classed by its dimensions. If you feel like thrusting it into an opponents belly in a stabbing motion is more effective, its probably a dagger. If you’d rather hack at someone with it in an arching overhand motion, its a short sword.

If you’ve seriously contemplated either or both options before, I’d suggest seeing a psychiatrist.

The Roman legionairy gladius is definitely a short sword (blade length 18"-22", but was used primarily as a stabbing weapon, so the method of use cannot be the determining factor.

SimonX That’s the crux of this biscuit.

The crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe. At least that’s what the dog said. :wink:

Yes, roman legionaries and Napoleonic dragoons preferred straight blades for their stabbing properties, even when the blades were quite long.

However, they obviously did not see the benefits of the slashing class of weapons. After all, if you had improved crit range feat along with a keen, vorpal shortsword, you would sever the opponents head 1/4 of the time!

Don’t listen to talking dogs.

D&D should not be taken as a reference tome for the real world. The difference between a knife, shiv, dagger, dirk, and shortsword is largely semantic, much like creek/crick/brook/stream/river.

There are weapons of many lengths that are exclusively stabbing, hacking, or slashing, or some combination.

As for your weapon, call it whatever you like. If someone disagrees with you, remember that you’re the one with the bit of pointy metal. Your definition holds more weight.


I’m almost sure that the people up there were largely joking, but I’m not sure.

Regardless, daggers are indeed primarily used for stabbing motions, even though some are edged. You could swing a dagger if you liked, though that’s behavior more suiting a knife. This leads up to the fact that, Truly, I don’t think there is much of a difference between edged weapons. All that really matters is what style or technique you most prefer using with whatever it is you happen to be using. If you’re winning, you can call that thing in your hand whatever you want.

Good morning all!

My weapon weighs about 1 to 2 pounds. It has a blade length of about 12 inches, and an overall length of 18 inches. The center of gravity is at the crossguard.

Because of the CG’s location, I consider the weapon to be designed for stabbing and slicing, and not for slashing.

Based on what everybody said, I’ll treat my weapon as a big dagger.

Thanks for the help!

(And I’m a bit behind on my D&D playing. My bad.)

What constitutes a “short sword” depends upon who you ask. For the English of the 16th century, at least, a “short sword” was any sword shorter than a “long sword” that was still made mostly to be used for cutting. A “long sword” was long enough to be used with two hands.

Now, “to dag” meant “to stab” centuries ago (according to the OED), but whether the verb came from the weapon or vice-versa is unknown.

I have seen museum catalogues that listed parrying daggers with blades as long as 22 inches, if I remember correctly. They were not considered to be swords, since they were paired with rapiers.

Because of the length, this sounds like a large dagger. Dirk and stiletto always both stick in my mind as longer, narrower blades meant for plunging. However, with a slightly longer blade of the same width, one could make a legitimate claim that one’s “dagger” is really a “main gauche” (French for “left hand”), which is one’s parrying, finishing, and last-resort weapon in two-handed swordfighting.

I think the deciding factor is a combination of blade width and the blade’s width-to-length ratio. If it’s a skinny blade, it doesn’t really become a short sword until it’s the size of a decent main gauche; if it’s a fat blade, it could be considered a short sword around machete length or shorter.

And of course, if you’re holding it, you get to decide.

Taken out of context, this line could really merit a :eek:

Thanks, av8rmike. As I was typing that sentence, I knew I could count on some Doper to make that particular joke. I’m glad someone rose to the occasion.


You said “occasion”.