Old Game Notebook: South Seas Weapons

Michael O. Varhola

Following are some notes on three sheets in no discernable order torn from a 6x9 spiral-top notebook that probably date to the early 1990s and which pertain to the weapons used by various Polynesian and Micronesian peoples. There are not stats with them so I am not sure what game I was developing material for but it was likely either 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons or Call of Cthulhu, particularly as I was doing some writing for The Unspeakable Oath in that period. It is interesting that I would stumble across these a week after returning from a trip to Polynesia that took me to Hawaii, Tahiti, and New Zealand, and at a time when I have started to contemplate developing a Polynesian campaign setting. 

Polynesia. Clubs specialized for throwing. Most c. 2' long, straight haft, knob at butt; large, round head, like a small coconut. 

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Moriori -- Chatham Island weapon. Stone club shaped like a fat sickle. 

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Polynesians had nearly as many types and sizes of spears as clubs: hurling, thrusting, parrying. Some simple; others heavily barbed. 

Polynesia. Bows used for sport; slings for war; bullets 2-4"; specially shaped. Used in Tonga, Samoa. Often carved. 

To the Polynesian being a warrior was the attainment of one's destiny as a man. Trained from infancy in arts of war and use of weapons. Was a sacred trust to avenge an insult to a kinsman and protect the ancestral land. 

Polynesians had no true cutting weapons. 

War dances and priestly orations whipped men into a fighting fury (consider spells for this purpose). 

Polynesian Paddles: Each island had its own form of paddle, reflecting its cultural traditions and environmental factors. 

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Maori "sparring club" more akin to a quarterstaff in use. Carved tip in form of a face with giant protruding tongue, basis of many Polynesian design motifs; often mistaken for a spear head. (This is the taiaha, an example of which appears in the illustration at the top of this page.)

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Entire surface of clubs often carved with intricate patterns. 

Maul: forked haft with big rock bound into the crotch. 

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Micronesia. Fish spear, c. 10' long. Tip is made up of 10 or so smaller, pointed sticks; flares somewhat. 

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Polynesia. Battles were often formal affairs, beginning ceremoniously with blasts from a triton-shell war trumpet. 

Formality ended with introduction of firearms. Unsporting warriors would shoot exposed foe men chivalrously awaiting the formal commencement of battle. 

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Kava: Samoan drink taken only  by leaders on ceremonial occasions.